RUST magazine: RUST#42

rustsports.com

IT'S A WHOPPER! 174 pages, so take your time. ON TEST: KTM 790 Adventure R, Triumph Scrambler 1200XE, Fantic Caballero Scrambler 500, Yamaha WR450F plus long term reports on Suzuki V-Strom 650XT, Honda CRF250RX, Husqvarna FE350 and KTM 1290 Adventure R. TRAVEL: California Cruising on Triumph and Indian, across the Americas with PanAmScram. REGULARS: Chris Evans, Craig Keyworth, fitness, products, and much much more!

ISSUE #42

KTM 790

TEST: KTM’s new

Adventure R comes

with added RRRRRRR!

MONSTER INC

TEST: How Yamaha has

tamed their WR450F for

2019

ADV COOL

TEST: Triumph’s

coolest adventure bike

is a heritage model!


Photo: F. Lackner

ENDURO

ANYWHERE

ANYTIME

KTM 690 ENDURO R

Take charge of your ride with the new KTM 690 ENDURO R – now armed

with highly-capable WP XPLOR suspension, ride-enhancing electronics and

aggressive new enduro styling. True to its core, this renowned icon of original

hard enduro offers a dynamic slim feel, delivering superior all-terrain action

wherever and whenever the urge arises.

For more information and to find your local authorised dealer visit www.ktm.com

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Please make no attempt to imitate the illustrated riding scenes, always wear protective clothing and observe the applicable provisions of the road traffic regulations!

The illustrated vehicles may vary in selected details from the production models and some illustrations feature optional equipment available at additional cost.


C ntents

#

FEATURES

134 28

Tested: 2019 KTM 790

Adventure R

Actually this is a wow

moment, this 790 is a

new kind of offering, very

dynamic, but also very

versatile

Tested: Triumph

Scrambler 1200XE

What started out as a

heritage test quickly

became an adventure

ride…

38 62

Tested: Fantic

Caballero Scrambler

500

We loved the 125 and

250, but with a 500 motor

– yeah, way to go!

Tested: Yamaha

WR450F

In an issue full of new

model surprises, here’s

another one. Yamaha

has at last nailed the 450

enduro…

54 140

Trials & Tribulations

Craig Keyworth has a goal

of Dakar 2020. He also

has intermediate goals,

like the 2019 Scottish Six

days Trial. Which is the

greater?

PanAmScram: Ecuador

July Behl continues to

eat (literally) his way

north-south across the

Americas…

152

California

Cruising at its best

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www.husqvarna-motorcycles.com

Photos: Alessio Barbanti, R. Schedl

IT BELONGS

WHEREVER YOU

CHOOSE TO TAKE IT

With the ability to go the distance on any terrain you choose, the options for

endorphin-inducing experience are endless. A state-of-the-art chassis and distinctive

design ensures that your ride is at home wherever it goes. Set off on limitless exploration

with Husqvarna Motorcycles 701 ENDURO.

For more information and to find your local authorised dealer visit www.husqvarna-motorcycles.com

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Please make no attempt to imitate the illustrated riding scenes, always wear protective clothing and observe the

applicable provisions of the road traffic regulations! The illustrated vehicles may vary in selected details from the

production models and some illustrations feature optional equipment available at additional cost.

www.rustsports.com


Editorial

How RUST #42 grew

into a monster…

C ntents #

REGULARS

06 08

Gallery

To show there’s no

snobbery in RUST,

we contrast an AMA

SX champ with

adventure ride first

timers

12 48

RUST TRAVELS

Too many bikes, not

enough time – there are

worse problems to have

Good Evans

Our man Chris Evans

looks set for Dakar

2020, while his Fantic

may never roll a wheel

again (altogether now:

boooooooo!)

110 104

Stuff

Featuring TCX boots

and Acerbis X-Seat…

Fitness for vets

Warren delves into

THE taboo subject of

any paddock…

76 86 100 114 134

Long termers

JB’s V-Strom does the Kielder 500; a KTM

1290 Super Adventure R rolls into the garage

and immediately cracks 1400 miles; the

Honda CRF250RX howls around the Brechfa

Rally; while Warren’s Husky FE350 is still

riding in circles somewhere near Lisbon…

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EDITORIAL

BE CAREFUL WHAT

YOU WISH FOR

Image: Llewellyn Pavey

I

should have known better. In last issue’s

editorial I lamented that I need to ride more.

Now, I could do with riding less! These past

two months have flashed by in a blaze of test

rides. I’m counting seven bikes tested, and

the miles I’ve put in – way over 3000 I should say,

as I’ve been up to the Scottish borders, to Yorkshire

and twice into Wales. Yes, the Suzuki V-Strom 650XT put on over

2000 miles and the new KTM 1290 Super Adventure is sitting on

1400 miles already. That’s before we add the days in the saddles of

the test bikes.

Trying to squeeze all this into this issue, plus other stuff for

balance, has been a major undertaking, maybe too much. Indeed

too much, after this issue you and me are going to have to get

used to editorial content being more evenly spread across the

magazine and the website – that old ‘continual publishing’

concept. I’ll be working hard with the RUST team to strategize

how content gets placed and we’ll probably need to make more

use of mail alerts, so please forgive us, we’re not spamming you,

just trying to ensure you find all our stories.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this issue. Being so big don’t

bust a gut trying to read it all in one go, and don’t leave it to one

side either – just keep coming back to it and reading in bits. It’s

the big-little magazine that just keeps giving.

Is there a standout bike this issue? No! The KTM 790 Adventure

R was every bit as dynamic and inspired as we’ve been led to

believe, if you like your adventure fast and furious this is probably

for you (although it does steady-away just as well). Conversely the

Rally Raid BMW G 310 GS (which we’ve had to publish on to our

website as this issue grew and grew) feels like the most complete

travel bike that a small-bore could ever be – it’s a real wonder and

might help you (as much as it did me) to reset just what you think

an adventure bike should be. There again, the Triumph Scrambler

1200 XE did that for me too – yeah, adventure should look cool

as well be cool. And by heck, did I love screaming the wee Honda

CRF250RX around the Brechfa Rally? And then there’s the Fantic

Caballero Scrambler 500, not to mention Yamaha’s WR450F.

All of them – quality, transformative machines.

I guess there’s a time and place for everything, and we

should appreciate all these different tastes. Hopefully

you’re enjoying your particular favourite flavour of dirt

biking right now, we’re in the riding season after all. So

ride safe and I hope you enjoy the read.

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GALLERY

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Cooper Webb

AMA SX CHAMP 2019

Congratulations to Cooper Webb on winning the Monster Energy 2019

AMA Supercross title. It would be fair to say he wasn’t expected to win,

names like Tomac, Musquin and Roczen were the early season favourites.

But the 23 year old from North Carolina prevailed. A former two-time

250SX West champ (2015-16), Webb’s step-up into the 450 class had not

been starred. In two seasons on a Yamaha YZ450F he’d placed 13th and

then 9th, with one podium finish in each year. So he came into the Red Bull

KTM team for 2019 very much as the understudy to Marvin Musquin. Only

Webb clicked with the KTM 450SX real quick, found his groove and simply

cleaned house. RUST was there from the beginning; this is Webb at his first

official KTM test session, and check out our interview with him from the

day https://youtu.be/hkjdooXP_HU

Image: JB

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GALLERY

A RIDE IN

THE WOODS

End of March, RUST took a long ride up to the

Scottish borders to ride the Adventure Spec

Challenge Kielder 500. Yep, nearly 500km on tracks

and trails using a paper road book for navigation.

Some 150 mostly newbie adventurers had an

incredible weekend, even if temperatures dropped

to a nippy -2ºC. The local community benefited

too, the local convenience store and petrol station

reported the equivalent of three months trade in

one afternoon. Needless to say the adventurous

motorcyclists are very welcome to return…

Image: JB

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Adventure

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LIFE

RUST TRAVELS

A log of what we’ve been up this past two months (or so…)

JB’s story

If my log from RUST #41

was all about seeing

off the winter, for this

issue it’s been about

one super-hectic Spring

testing season. One after

another, the importers called

offering new test bikes. I

couldn’t turn down not even

one of them, although that’s

meant an ever-growing

snowball of work at this end

of the schedule (and delayed

publishing).

But getting out riding has

been awesome. Within a

week I’d gone from racing

the Honda CRF250RX

through the Welsh forests

to navigating the altogether

larger Suzuki V-Strom

650XT around a Scottish

forest. Two vastly different

experiences, but I loved both.

I like tear-arsing around on

the wee enduro, but I also

like slowing it right down and

appreciating the scenery on

the big adventure.

There again, I have more

conflicting mores when it

comes to having enjoyed

riding two KTM über-

ADVs in their 790 and

1290 Adventure Rs and

then finding equal love

for Triumph’s new 1200

Scrambler XE. For me, all

three make great adventure

bikes and I’d be super happy

touring off-road on all three.

But then Rally Raid Product’s

modified BMW G 310 GS

again proved you don’t need

a big engine for big adventure

– what a cracking tool that is!

Bottom line: it’s all good.

We have an embarrassment of

riches it seems in the dirt bike

and heritage bike market right

now. So choosing your ride is

getting ever harder…

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Travel

Warren’s story

JB has just asked me to pen 150

words on my last two months

since the previous issue, and

my first thought was – “a

bloody blur!”

A big part of that time has been

in designing a new workshop, and

track, as part of the development here

at Casa Warren (in Portugal). In the

meantime, I have been setting up a

makeshift workshop in the existing

garage. Riding has been a series of

long overdue product tests done over

the course of the very wet three-day

Transalentejo Rally, and putting in

some laps at the local MX track.

I enjoyed a day of racing with my

son at an old school classic motocross

track near my house. Took me back to

the good ol’ days.

Every

other spare

moment

I’ve had I put

into adding the

finishing touches to

my Husky FE350 long-termer. I am

really happy with the bike and the

set-up. The few final adjustments have

really fine-tuned the bike to a point

that I don’t think I have been able to

achieve in my riding career yet, on any

machine. I will be sharing this in the

final feature, ‘In search of the perfect

set-up’ in the next issue.

To finish the month, I am heading

to the launch of the new 2020 KTM

enduro range in Spain. Look out for

blogs and videos from the launch from

May 21.

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NOW AVAILABLE FROM WWW.RUSTSPORTS.COM


Adventure

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KTM 790 ADVENTURE R

FIRSTRIDE

KTM 790 ADVENTURE R

Words: JB Images: Two Fast Media

RUST has had its first ride on the KTM 790

Adventure R. KTM UK whizzed a bunch

of journos over to the newly inaugurated

Sweet Lamb KTM Adventure Bike

Experience in Powys, deepest Wales, where

we sampled both the new 6600 acre facility

as well as the new machine.

We’ll have a full report on the 790

Adventure R when we conduct our

full test (road, dirt and rally) in July

– yes, that’s the earliest we could get

a test bike – but for now based on a day riding

off-road in Welsh mountains (2500ft being the

highest) here’s what we’ve learnt about this bike.

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ADVENTURE

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KTM 790 ADVENTURE R

1. IT FEELS RIGHT

By which we mean the ergonomics are just about spot on. It feels like

a regular dirt bike (not a road bike), with a narrow feel through the mid

section (so you’re not riding with feet miles apart), it has the correct natural

positioning for your body when stood, with your head naturally placed

above the headstock, and when you adopt the Chris Birch adapted standing

position (kind of ¾ standing attack) it’s pitch perfect – yet is equally comfy

when sat cruising. The only limitation is when it comes to seated cornering

(off-road) you can’t get as far forward as you would on a regular enduro bike,

so most off-road cornering you’d be better off stood up.

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ADVENTURE

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KTM 1290 ADVENTURE R

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KTM 790 ADVENTURE R

2. IT FEELS THE SAME

You’d think this being a parallel twin of approximately 800cc that it would

feel different to all the other KTM adventure bikes. It doesn’t. Like so many

parallel twins these days it adopts an offset crank position to create a veetwin

feel. So jumping from a 1290 onto the 790, while you notice the power

difference (that’s something like from 160hp down to 90hp), the engine

characteristic, the feel, is very similar. We could go further, to say that it

seems with electronic aids and computer engine management a lot of

engines are getting to feel quite similar these days. You can jump from bike

to bike, crack the throttle on a gravel corner and all will give you that same

digitally-manipulated serving of wheelspin (and slide). Which is both useful

(less crashing) if getting to feel slightly homogenised!

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KTM 790 ADVENTURE R

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ADVENTURE

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3. IT’S DYNAMIC

The size, weight, power and proportion of this bike are designed to

work with a more active rider. You don’t stand or sit on this bike, twist

the throttle and let it get on with the job – no, the 790 likes a mobile

rider. On gravel, exiting corners it could be very easy to just crack the

throttle and spin the rear and hand over full control to the computer, but

if you move your weight forward-back, inside-outside the 790 rewards

you with a great feel for rear wheel traction, so rather than shedding

expensive rubber knobblies in the fury of pointlessly spinning wheel,

you can instead shift your hips back and out and feel the traction come

back to you – making for faster, cleaner corner exits. Point being there’s

space on the bike to do all this, you can get right over the front or push

yourself way back (braking hard) and the bike responds. It’s still heavy

by usual dirt bike standards, but not so heavy like a 1250/1290 so the

rider’s weight makes up a greater percentage of the combined mass, and

this means your input has a greater effect. Rally riders will love this, but

recreational riders will benefit, too. It’s about control.

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KTM 790 ADVENTURE R

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ADVENTURE

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4. IT’S EASY

If, like us, you saw the video footage from the world launch in Morocco

(all fast riding and big dune jumps) and thought the 790 is all about Billy

Big Balls aping Dakar legends then KTM has sent the wrong message

(or at least not the whole message). The 790 can do this (as you saw) but

equally the 790 is a doddle to ride and very adept at doing slow stuff.

With the options on ride mode, traction control etc you can dial in a

really easy set of responses that are perfectly suited to newish riders,

or riders who like a quiet ride. This bike has enormous potential and

versatility, but it’s up to the rider as to whether he uses its powers for

good (adventure touring) or evil (racing).

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KTM 790 ADVENTURE R

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ADVENTURE

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KTM 790 ADVENTURE R

5. WE’RE WON OVER

Those blobby bottom-heavy pannier fuel tanks and the beaky

headlight make for a slightly odd look to the bike that can be initially

off-putting. It’s standard Kiska design if you ask us – they always like

to do something a bit edgy, sometimes downright ugly, but at least

provocative/challenging. Once you’ve ridden the bike the looks matter

less, because the fact is the dynamic design and engineering work well

and KTM has created a bike with great energy. Top riders will abuse it,

make it do crazy things, but for regular riders this will make off-road

adventuring that little bit easier, safer and so more enjoyable. So throw

some panniers on it (probably soft ones now – the latest market trend)

and get out there and just enjoy. This bike isn’t about manufacturers’

bragging rights or travel event campsite Top Trumps, it’s for active riders

who are looking for an active bike.

That’s it for now. Full report will follow given a full test!

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TESTED

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2019 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE SCRAMBLER 1200XE

SCRAMBLER XE

it’s adventure by another name

We’ve been itching to try Triumph’s new Bonneville

Scrambler 1200s, they just look way too cool, and the XE

with that 250mm of suspension looks way too capable

to be ignored. And now we’ve tried one, an XE complete

with Extreme Inspiration Kit, what do we think? Yeah,

we’ve got so much to tell you!

Words & Images: JB

I’d been out way too long, enjoying myself too

much. Now it had got dark and I was looking

to finish up the last 30 miles of the ride a bit

quicker. Only this being early April the night

was decidedly cool and my Richa Bonneville

jacket was at its limit in terms of insulation while my

old Spidi 77 gloves were a little thin, too. I was feeling

the chill. ‘I could do with heated grips, right now,’ I

thought. You see, this is where adventure bikes score

so well, they have all these gizmos, proper kitchen sink

jobs they are. Five minutes later I looked down and

spotted this discreet wee button on the left handlebar

grip – what? Heated grips! Heck, when did scramblers

get so practical? So I blasted on home, holding a nice

85mph (ahem), now with warmth radiating into my

palms (ahem). The XE just notched up another win.

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TESTED

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If you’ve read RUST for a while and

seen our test of the Triumph Street

Scrambler 900 (RUST #32) you’ll know

I’m a fan. But I’m also a pragmatist. As

much as I love the Street Scrambler

it is essentially a street bike – the

suspension, being short travel and

quite basic, totally compromises its

off-road pretentions. Cool for the street,

impractical in the dirt. Now Triumph

has a new generation of Scrambler with

the latest super-punchy 1200cc motor

and you can tell just by looking at the

suspension units they’re addressing the

900’s shortcoming. You can see it in the

marketing, too – guys hoofing the bikes

through deserts and all – these new

Bonneville Scramblers are more than

just styling jobs.

A QUICK OVERVIEW

I’m going to deal with the tech quickly.

Partly because (as we often suggest) the

Triumph website says it all and it’s not

difficult to click on that and get all the

detail you need. And partly because I

want to get on and discuss the riding.

So tech: The motor is new generation,

eh? Yep, it’s a full 1200cc eight-valve

SOHC parallel twin with a 270º crank

angle (for character), producing 89

horsepower and a fair 110Nm of torque

(the latter at just 3950rpm). It looks aircooled

– check out the cylinder finning

– but actually it’s water-cooled and

when you ride it slow off-road you’ll

know this as you hear the radiator’s

electric fan cutting in. It’s got a slick

six-speed gearbox and the clutch is

surprisingly cable-operated.

The chassis is unique to these

Scramblers, designed to meet both onand

off-road demands, being traditional

tubular steel with aluminium cradles.

Our test example being the top of the

range XE has 250mm of suspension

travel front and rear, with 47mm Showa

USD forks and twin Öhlins piggyback

shocks. The wheels are very off-road

specific being wire cross-spoke type,

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2019 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE SCRAMBLER 1200XE

with a 21” front and 17” rear (allowing

tubeless tyres – in this instance Metzeler

Tourance). We like that Triumph haven’t

gone overboard with the width of the

rear hoop, it holds a narrower 150/70

section tyre. With all that suspension

the seat height is a moderately tall

870mm. On the alternative XC model,

which has 200mm of suspension travel,

it’s 840mm. The brakes are a fancy

Brembo monobloc 320mm twin disc

setup (the calipers are radially mounted

– and there’s a fancy brake lever to

go with that, too) with a 255mm rear

disc clamped by a Brembo two-piston

caliper.

Other numbers: the fuel tank is a

slightly disappointing 16-litres (but

that’s the cost of creating such a pretty

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TESTED

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shape) which given Triumph’s claimed

58mpg average fuel consumption

should see you within a whiff of 200

miles at a go. Meanwhile claimed

weight (dry) is 207kg. That’s actually a

nice number, heavy for a dirt bike of

course, but compared to the 242kg of

the 1200 Tiger Explorer it’s relatively

light.

Then there’s the electronic tech,

with six riding modes (including offroad

pro for the XE only), a fancy TFT

dash, cornering ABS and traction

control, not to mention a whole host

of interconnectivity whether you’re

into music, GoPro film shooting or

want something more practical like a

navigation app. You can geek yourself

out on the electronics for sure.

SO, THE RIDE

I’m glad that’s the tech over with (hope

you found it moderately helpful) – now

the riding. First impressions – it’s a big

ship. The seat is tallish, although at 6’0” I

THE SCRAMBLER MAY

NOT YET BE PERFECTION

BUT TRIUMPH HAS

MADE ONE STUNNING

MOTORCYCLE THAT IS

PURE PLEASURE TO RIDE

could get the balls of my feet down quite

easily – shorter folk might prefer the

XC’s dimensions. And the handlebars

are quite high being set on tallish risers,

wide-ish too, as you’d expect for a

scrambler. They feel a little too straight

on the road, but when stood for offroad

they’re just fine. The seat is a flat

bench type that allows you to move fore

and aft quite easily. Being a trifle thin it

doesn’t bode well for long distances, but

we dare say the aftermarket guys will

come up with a gel type before too long.

As it is, for two-up riding maybe it’s best

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2019 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE SCRAMBLER 1200XE

to restrict yourself to shorter trips.

But despite being tall and big, it’s not

that big, it’s slim-ish and the absence of

bodywork further reduces its sense of

bulk. And pushing it around with those

wide bars and narrow-ish tyres takes

very little effort – actually surprisingly

little, it almost came to be a perverse

pleasure. And when you ride up the

road you’re struck by how narrow the

bike is around your ankles and how as

you look forward your view is barely

interrupted by the wide bars, modest

dash and bar-mounted mirrors. Very

quickly you’re into the 1960s scrambler

feel, it does actually feel pretty authentic

(having ridden a fair few Brit twins from

the 50s and 60s) while obviously being

at the same time ultra-modern.

With certain adventure bikes

punching ridiculous numbers like

160hp you’d think 89hp might feel a bit

weak. But it doesn’t, the Scrambler has

good torque right off the bottom and so

it launches itself pretty vigorously and

the lack of weight further helps here.

You can hotrod away from the traffic

lights for sure. The clutch is surprisingly

light and the gearbox is slick as you’d

like, so you can roost most traffic –

while of course sitting there looking

super-cool in the laid-back scrambler

riding position.

Handling on the street is more secure

than you might first anticipate, given

the 90/90-21 front tyre, and certainly

I can’t recall any undue anxiety

about swinging through bends and

roundabouts. Likewise with the ABS

backup I wasn’t concerned about

crash-braking either. Combine this

with cornering traction control and the

Scrambler is doing a lot to both keep

you safe and riding virtually carefree.

That’s a nice feeling.

There is of course little in the way of

weather protection and yet it was quite

comfortable cruising up to 90mph

without any need to tuck down out of

the airstream. That might not be the

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SPECIFICATION

2019 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE

SCRAMBLER 1200 XE

ENGINE: Liquid-cooled 8-valve SOHC

parallel twin four-stroke

DISPLACEMENT: 1200cc

BORE & STROKE: 97.6 x 80.0mm

MAX POWER: 98hp @ 7400rpm

MAX TORQUE: 110Nm @ 3950rpm

FUELING: Multipoint sequential electronic

Fuel injection

STARTER: Electric

TRANSMISSION: Six-speed gearbox, wet

multiplate clutch

FRAME: Tubular steel with aluminium

cradles

FRONT SUSPENSION: 47mm Showa USD

forks, fully adjustable, 250mm travel

REAR SUSPENSION: Öhlins fully adjustable

piggyback shocks, 250mm travel

WHEELS: Tubeless, aluminum rims, crossspoke,

2.15 x 21” front, 4.25 x 17’ rear

BRAKES: Front discs – 320mm, four-piston

Brembo (radially mounted) calipers – Rear

disc 255mm, twin piston caliper, ABS

SEAT HEIGHT: 870mm

WHEELBASE: 1530mm

WEIGHT: 207kg (dry)

FUEL CAPACITY: 16 l

CONTACT: www.triumphmotorcycles.

co.uk/.com

PRICE: UK from £11500 EU €14800 US

$14,000

case on a windy day, but you don’t

buy this kind of bike for high-speed

motorway work.

OFF-ROAD

So here’s the RUST-specific angle – the

off-road performance. Can it do it? Of

course it can. Point being it felt so good,

way better than you could imagine.

Those narrow-ish tyres really help

here. The 21” front rolls easily over the

undulations and over roots and holes

and rides happily along ruts. The rear

being a 150-section doesn’t teeter or

slide unnervingly down off-cambers

nor does it claw up the side of ruts. Both

ends are happy in their work.

And you can ride it in a pretty

dynamic style. Rather than riding the

lowest part of trail as you might on

some big adventure bikes, I found I

could zig-zag quite happily back and

forth, therefore riding across ruts

rather than in them. I’d place the tyres

comfortably into the mini-berms on the

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2019 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE SCRAMBLER 1200XE

outside of corners almost as you would

on an enduro – it rides like a 200kg dirt

bike, not a 200kg road bike pretending

to be a dirt bike.

And when you stop and select the

off-road pro mode, the power delivery

is just sweetness. In fact I liked riding

the Scrambler in this mode pretty much

everywhere (including the street) as

it feels quite unfettered. There’s no

traction control and no ABS and it

allowed skids and wheelies – proper

wheelies without the front crashing

down suddenly the way the traction

control will create in the road modes.

That’s childish behavior, but in the

privacy of your own empty lane what’s

the harm? And popping the odd wheelie

is what Scrambling is all about, wouldn’t

you say?

Now then, it’s not all good. My first

bug-bear – the high pipes. They look

lovely, and these being kit Arrow

brushed-aluminium units they sound

lovely too, but they do push your right

calf away from the bike – meaning you

have to ride slightly bow-legged on

the right side. Now this seems to be a

lot less pronounced than on the Street

Scrambler 900, but it’s still there and it

means you have only half the purchase

on the right foot peg than you would

otherwise have. And riding like this isn’t

long hours sustainable. You could get

around this, to some extent, by fitting

wider rally pegs, and if this bike were

ours, yes we’d do that.

Second disappointment – the

suspension. I love the long travel, I love

the look and the tech – but these units

on this test just felt too firm. Maybe

the springs were too stiff or it’s the

damping that’s too restrictive. Maybe

they’re setup to keep you safe at 80mph

in the desert – to take the big hits – but

doing 20mph in Kent’s green lanes,

which admittedly were surprisingly

hard packed for this time of year, it was

a jarring ride. I was looking for a little

more plushness. Again, if this were

our bike we’d be getting a specialist to

respring/revalve both ends to sort that.

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TESTED

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THE ADVENTURE

Now those two misfires have not put us

off this bike. Not for a minute. You see,

not only is this bike as good as being

our all-time ultimate Scrambler – it

runs the BMW RnineT Scrambler right

to the wire (only the BMW’s sublime

air-oil-cooled motor saves it from being

roundly beaten) – it’s also quite possibly

our choice of ultimate adventure bike as

well!

NOT ONLY IS THIS BIKE AS GOOD AS BEING OUR ALL-

TIME ULTIMATE SCRAMBLER IT’S ALSO QUITE POSSIBLY

OUR CHOICE OF ULTIMATE ADVENTURE BIKE AS WELL!

To explain. We love adventure bikes

here at RUST, next to riding our enduros

adventure is our passion. But the arms

race in the adventure sector has led

to massive skew in the market. For

no good reason it seems adventure

bikes now need to also be motocross

proficient while possessing the power

output of a factory world superbike of

just a handful of seasons past. Selling

on Top Trump bragging rights has

pushed the latest adventure bikes into

realms that have absolutely nothing to

do with a casual sight seeing tour of

Sierra Leone.

Back in the 1970s Ted Simon, on his

Police-issue Triumph T100 clearly

chose not bother Roger De Coster

around Namur while on his way across

Europe heading to the Middle East,

neither did he check in with Greg

Hansford at Mount Panorama while

making a tour of Australia’s East Coast.

He just bumped along meeting all

manner of people (and bedding the

odd one too…!) and generally finding

wonder in the world. No feet-up broadsliding,

no 25’ table-top jumps, no

150mph motorway blasts. Yep, it seems

adventure bikes have lost sight of their

humble origins and so when you rock

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2019 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE SCRAMBLER 1200XE

up on an adventure bike these days

you’re more likely to be making a fair

impression of the Millennium Falcon, in

search of Stormtroopers to waste, rather

than being the polite respectful visitor.

So this Scrambler, in being pretty

off-road capable, now comes closer

to being a real adventure bike than

adventure bikes themselves. Without

the acres of plastic that modern

adventure bikes have, it is (again

to quote Mr Simon) seemingly ‘to

a human scale’. And without all the

gizmos (although it harbours a fair few)

and without the screen and fairing

between the rider and the environment,

it connects the rider better with the

world. And where adventure bikes

have become attitude to the point of

try-hard, the casual laid-back cool of

the Scrambler 1200 translates so much

better to the adventure ethos. And here’s

a challenge for you – check out the XC

model with the Escape Inspiration Kit

and tell us you don’t feel an urge to go

discovering?

BOTTOM LINE

Bottom line? Triumph has nailed it. The

Scrambler may not yet be perfection but

they’ve made one stunning motorcycle

that is pure pleasure to ride and creates

that urge to just ride. This bike speaks

to you, it looks so right too, so cool, you

can’t resist wanting it. And yes, we want

it!

www.rustsports.com 37


HERITAGE

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FANTIC CABALLERO SCRAMBLER 500

SALUTA I

CINQUECENTO!

Hey, it took a while getting here, but it’s here now ready for the summer of

2019 – and it turns out the biggest Caballero Scrambler is one sweet ride…

Words & images: JB

We’ve waited a while for this

model, it’s taken longer

than expected to get here

as Fantic have worked

overtime to get it super-refined, but the

wait was worth it, the Fantic Caballero

Scrambler 500 truly impresses. It’s one

sweet ride. If you’ve read our report on

the 125 and 250cc Scramblers (RUST

#39) you’ll know these are exquisitely

detailed, sweet handling heritagescrambler

styled road bikes. But with

the 500 motor installed – we’re talking a

whole new level.

EAST WORKING WITH THE WEST

Given our previous test of these

Caballero Scramblers, there’s just the

one aspect to update ourselves on – the

bigger motor. The motor comes from

Chinese manufacturer Zongshen (as

does the 250) and it’s a 449cc SOHC

unit, and pretty techy given it’s liquidcooled

and fuel injected, not to mention

cat-equipped (so meeting Euro4

regulations) with a six-speed box in

the transmission. And while it’s built

in China, the Italian Fantic squad have

been through it with a fine-tooth comb

speccing the cams they want, refining

the ECU and FI etc. So it’s not just an

arbitrary engine drop-in situation.

In fact, the first round of engine

refinement was masterminded by

British firm Ricardo Engineering (who,

among others, have helped McLaren

with the tune on their road supercars),

while Italian experts Athena worked

on the ECU and FI and another Italian

firm Arrow designed the cool exhaust

system. Fantic themselves took over

final stages of development to create the

best, smoothest, engine tune possible.

So Chinese made – like so much of our

tech these days (so don’t get sniffy) –

but with heaps of European R&D.

The chassis we pretty much already

know about, but check out RUST #39

for the full rundown.

A PERFECT BALANCE

Here’s the thing, this 500 (as said,

actually a true 449cc) motor is

something of a peach. There’s a sense of

balance and refinement that shouldn’t

be a surprise, but is. Maybe because

we’ve grown used to riding 650s and

690s, we’re anticipating slightly lumpy

torque-laden acceleration. But being

smaller, with less reciprocating mass

– and even that smoothed by way of a

counter balancer – the power comes

in a little more linear with a sweeter

smoother build. It doesn’t stumble at

low revs either, and you can ride it

right down to near tickover without

the chain-slapping chugga-chugga

that bigger singles often deliver. So w

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HERITAGE

40

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FANTIC CABALLERO SCRAMBLER 500

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you don’t need to ride at a minimum

3500rpm all the time, riding smoothly

at least 1000rpm lower means you can

ride through town just that little more

chilled.

And the bottom-to-mid is impressive.

Clean pick up and decent acceleration

are there and these combined with a

slick shifting well-spaced six-speed

gearbox mean you make easy and

nimble progress. And again, for a single

it feels smooth. The surprise is there’s

actually something of a screaming

top end that goes with that. Often

you have a choice – good low-end

torque or top end rev – to have both

is quite rare. When you anaylse the

specs you can see what we essentially

have here is the equivalent of a 450cc

enduro bike engine, at 40hp it’s what

a CRF450L makes Stateside and pretty

close to what European enduros are

making, so on the cam the sound of

the Scrambler 500 is unsurprisingly not

unlike a competition-tuned 450 enduro.

So instead of short shifting at around

5500rpm, you can hang on to the

throttle and hold out for peak power at

7500rpm. It’s pretty sporty and sounds

even more so on the over-run as the

exhausts spit and pop as the revs come

down.

Now I read the odometer on the

test bike more than a little wrong

(which is forgivable given the whole

instrument console is a bit titchy)

thinking it said 1480 miles when in

fact the total mileage at time of testing

was just 148 miles. So wringing out

the poor Scrambler through the gears

was probably not the go, but is what

happened. And consequently while

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HERITAGE

42

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FANTIC CABALLERO SCRAMBLER 500

it didn’t feel as tight as it might, it did

struggle to rev-out in top, so while

fifth gear reached 80mph, sixth kind

of plateaued at 90mph. At the time,

not knowing the real mileage it felt

to me like it was over geared, but

perhaps it was just too new, with more

(considerate) miles on the clock it will

loosen up and could probably make

100mph, not that outright velocity is

what this bike is about. It was riding

nice and stable at these speeds, mind.

A PROPER LIGHT SABRE

Now the 500 motor comes with

something of a weight penalty, all

that extra metal shifts the Scrambler

up from 140kg as a 250, to 150kg as

a 500 (claimed dry weights there).

Back to back you might well notice

this difference, but the only feedback

I got was one of lightness and quick

handling. The combination of a 19”

front and 17” rear, with Pirelli Scorpion

Rally STR tyres, is a fine, quality choice,

while Fantic’s 41mm USD forks and

monoshock rear, while slightly firm

(again this can be down to being brand

new and not bedded-in), make for

quick but predictable steering. And you

have to appreciate the quality that’s

thrown into this chassis, check-out the

CNC milled fork yokes, engine plates

and the handsome chro-moly frame.

Likewise the Byre brakes (being a

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HERITAGE

FANTIC CABALLERO SCRAMBLER 500

SPECIFICATION

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subsidiary of Brembo) worked well and

given the short wheelbase actually best

performance was obtained by using

both front and back in equal measure

thereby better balancing the bike.

Some people might be inclined to ride

the Scrambler off-road – after all it’s in

the name. But really this feels to be a

street scrambler at heart. I’m not sure

the suspension set-up will suit either,

and being a relatively short bike it’s not

best balanced for standing work, and

in any case standing is compromised

by the bulging exhaust mufflers under

your right calf. Sat down cruising gently

along hard pack trails or gravel, I can

see that, but for rutty green lanes there

are better options. There’s a Rally model

coming soon, with a full 200mm of

suspension – that’s more likely to be the

off-roading / adventure choice.

TOP WORK

In all, we’ve got to give Fantic a big

thumbs up for the Caballero Scrambler

500. We liked the smaller versions,

but the 500 is for us the real deal, the

engine performance marries perfectly

with the chassis and it delivers exactly

what it promises. The styling is

exquisite and the engine is really well

tuned. It ducks under the 47hp EU A2

motorcycle power limit, too, so this

further enhances its attraction. Yeah, an

excellent job. Oh, and fun to ride!

FANTIC CABALLERO/FLAT TRACK

ENGINE: water-cooled single-cylinder

SOHC four-valve four-stroke

CAPACITY: 449cc

CLAIMED POWER: 40hp at 7500rpm

CLAIMED TORQUE: 43Nm at 6000rpm

FUELLING: Electronic fuel injection

Athena GET 40mm throttle body

GEARBOX: Six-speed, wet multi-plate

clutch

FRAME: CroMo steel tube cradle

FRONT SUSPENSION: 41mm USD

forks, 150mm travel

REAR SUSPENSION: Single shock,

progressive link, 150mm travel

WHEELS/TYRES: 110/80-19, 140/80-17

Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR

BRAKES: front: 320mm disc, twinpiston

caliper, rear: 230mm disc single

piston caliper

WHEELBASE: 1425mm

SEAT HEIGHT: 820mm

FUEL CAPACITY: 12 litres

CLAIMED WEIGHT: 150kg

PRICE: Caballero/Flat Track 500

UK £6399

44

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NEW FOR 2019

RALLY 500

• Single cylinder 450cc twin cam motor

• Arrow stainless exhaust as standard

• Headlamp guard & number board

• Lightweight aluminium swing arm

• Sump guard & radiator guard

• 2 way adjustable suspension

• Progressive link suspension

• Disengageable ABS

• CNC triple clamps

• Bybre brakes

THE STREET

SCRAMBLER

• Choose your power 125, 250 or 500

• Arrow stainless exhaust as standard

• Progressive link suspension

• Disengageable ABS

• CNC triple clamps

• Bybre brakes

• Lowering kits now available

• 125 variants L plate legal

See full model range and find dealers at:

fanticmotoruk.com


Classic style doesn't

end with the bike

Check out Bell Helmet's

Classic Collection

A select range of Bell Helmets is now available through

RUST at www.bell-motorcycle-helmets.co.uk


*RUST subscribers get member discounts


tRAIL

A DESTINY

WITH DAKAR?

No sooner was our man Chris Evans out of Dakar than he could

very well be back in again. And, as he said in his last column,

heading for the Middle East (we’ll miss South America…).

Meanwhile, in more relatable news, he’s been sorting the

restoration of his old Fantic 200 (just to make JB jealous)

Words: Chris Evans

So much has happened since

I last wrote that I could easily

fill up a column and a half,

but editorial redlines won’t

stand for that, so I’ll try and keep it as

compact as possible…

DAKAR WITH DAVID, PERHAPS?

The first bit of exciting news was the

announcement that David Castera has

been made boss of the Dakar. ‘David

who?’ some of you might be asking.

Well he was the last man to ever win

the daddy of all extreme enduros, the

Gilles Lalay Classic, narrowly beating

a young Cyril Despres. He then went

on to create a race in the south west

of France called the Shark Xtreme and

very kindly loaned me large chunks of

it for my Pyrenees route. Following on

from there he was appointed sporting

director of the Dakar, something I

had a small hand in, before leaving to

become Cyril Despres’ Peugeot codriver,

something I had a small hand

in. When Peugeot pulled the plug on

their Dakar programme he bought the

Rallye du Maroc and I went to work for

him, knowing that in the process that

it would mean being sacked from the

Dakar. And now he’s back as the boss,

meaning that little old me might well

48 www.rustsports.com


Chris Evans

be back in the Dakar fold.

The second bit of breaking Dakar

news was the announcement that

the Dakar would be moving to Saudi

Arabia – something I suggested might

happen in my last column. This has

inevitably met with mixed reactions

among Dakar regulars and a whole

load of followers on social media. And

it is easy to understand the polemic.

I mean, it isn’t a country universally

approved of in the West. It again

means another ‘one country’ Dakar (at

least in the short term) and for many

it isn’t a dream destination. On the

other hand it does have a lot of desert,

about four times the size of France,

and a lot of that is sand dune, which

is obviously the holy grail of rallyraid

terrain. From a purely personal

point of view it will be interesting to

discover a new country and culture.

I found working on the Silkway Rally

(something I will be doing again this

summer) fascinating. Going from

Russia through Mongolia to China was

an amazing experience and this year

there’s the added bonus of motorcycles

competing on the event for the first

time.

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49


tRAIL

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John Hall with Chris’ tool

collection in its entirety

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Chris Evans

“SINCE I’D CRITICISED

MR BENTMAN IN VIRTUAL

PRINT FOR SLINGING

HIS HONDA TRIALS BIKE

TOGETHER WITH SCANT

REGARD FOR AESTHETICS

MY FANTIC RESTORATION

OBVIOUSLY NEEDS TO LOOK

A MILLION DOLLARS”

SHOW PONY

Away from exotic locations to the

more prosaic setting of a garage in

Maidstone, the other thing that has

got me very excited these last few

months has been restoring my 1982

Fantic 200. For family reasons I knew

I was going to have to spend quite a

bit of time in the UK at the beginning

of the year and needed something to

keep me entertained. So I slung the

Fantic, which hasn’t turned a wheel

in the over 20 years, into the back

of the van and dropped it off at the

home of 10 times British sidecar trials

vice champion John Hall. Mr Hall,

as I call him, and myself go back an

awful long way. He was a mechanic

for numerous British Dakar riders and

for many years provided assistance

on Sport Adventure’s trips. Without

wishing to sound over-sentimental he

is someone I have enormous respect

and affection for. The only problem

is that we have widely differing views

about virtually everything, so we can’t

actually sit down and have a cup of tea

and a chat. The only way we can really

enjoy each other’s company is if we are

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tRAIL

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RIGHT Looking spiffily like new, JB not

impressed BELOW: Presumably the extra

length on the header pipe denotes ‘works’

spec (tape measure reads in metric and

imperial to help our American readers)

doing something together. The Fantic

therefore was the perfect pretext. Did I

mention he is an excellent mechanic?

The first thing Mr Hall asked me

once we’d got the bike out of the van

and into his garage was, ‘what do

you want it to be, a reliable runner or

a show-pony?’ This wasn’t actually

a question I’d asked myself. I mean

obviously it needs to run, but since

I’d criticised Mr Bentman in virtual

print for slinging his Honda trials

bike together with scant regard for

aesthetics it obviously needs to look a

million dollars as well. Plus, as Mr Hall

pointed out, it won’t be nearly as nice

to ride as my reliable-runner Montesa

315.

So we were already erring to the

side of show pony when a few photos

I posted on a Fantic restoration

Facebook page elicited a certain

amount of excitement. Apparently

the top mounts on the rear shocks

are ‘factory’, as is my exhaust pipe –

which would explain why it was such

a bastard to get off. Current opinion

is either it’s a factory bike, a bike

modified to factory spec by the UK

importers or a privateer bike modified

by someone using factory specs. I have

a hunch the latter is probably the most

likely scenario but whatever the case

might be it has clearly pushed us in the

show pony direction.

A direction very much aided and

abetted by Mr Hall’s incredible network

of blokes in sheds spread across the

south of England providing the most

amazing services. There’s a chap

near Virginia Water doing the most

incredible things with a vapour blaster

who can ceramic coat things at very

reasonable prices. There’s someone

in the South West (confusingly called

Bradford Ignitions) who can rewind

your stator, there’s a shop in Surrey

52

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Chris Evans

ROAD BOOK ENDURO TOURS

IN FRANCE DATES FOR 2019

12/13/14 June Lozerien Bis

19/20/21 June Cantal

4/5/6 Sept Cantal

23/24/25 Oct Massif du Morvan

6/7/8 Nov Dordogne

20/21/22 Nov Normandie

called In Motion Twinshock Trials

(actually a very large and well laid out

shed) where you can buy virtually

everything you need to restore a Fantic

200 off the shelf and finally there’s

Eurocarb, the other side of Reading

who will look at your Dellorto, tell

you what needs replacing and then

it sell it to you. Not only were all of

these people friendly, knowledgeable

and helpful they were also in no

way ripping you off. The only bad

experience I have had to date is with a

company that zinc plated all the bolts

in a very haphazard fashion. Zincplater

apart it’s been a thoroughly

enjoyable experience, Mr Hall and I

have barely touched on politics and

we’ve got the engine back in the frame.

The bike doesn’t actually run yet and

there’s still at least three more days

work left to go but I think its going to

look absolutely beautiful at home in my

bedroom. I might even ride it up and

down the road a couple of times before

I push it up the stairs.

www.rustsports.com

$

All trips are priced at £560 (payable to ABTA bonded and ATOL

protected UK travel agency S&N Pickford). Price includes 3

days riding, 2 nights half-board accommodation, loan of road

book and road book reader, support vehicle and driver, an

opener and sweeper and a classy T-shirt. Please don't hesitate

to contact us if you would like any further information.

Chris Evans, Sport Adventure

Tel: 0033 662 487190

chris.evans@sport-adventure.com

www.sport-adventure.com


ally

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DAKAR

Craig’s Dare

to Dakar

As seen in RUST #41, our man Craig Keyworth is set on competing in Dakar 2020.

Having finished in the Rallye du Maroc in 2018, this year he’s set a few challenges to

get himself match-fit for this next Dakar. That’s meant events including Merzouga

(a Dakar qualifier), the Scottish Six Days Trial and Romaniacs! Here we catch up with

Craig on his return from Merzouga and prior to setting off the SSDT…

Interview: Craig Keyworth Images: JB & CK

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Part Two: SSDT!?

The SSDT - ‘The Scottish’ was

first run in 1909, and has been

running ever since (with

breaks for the two world wars).

It is a world-class event, one of a kind

and the equivalent of the TT Races

for the trials scene. The trials world

championship is where you’ll find the

white-hot heat of the elite going feet-up

head-to-head (or should that be toe-totoe?),

like MotoGP, but the enormity of

the natural rock sections of the Scottish

and the sheer length – six long days –

makes it the most unique and seriously

intimidating ‘natural’ challenge.

It registered on my radar as in

preparation for my Dakar in 2020 I’d

drawn up a quick mental list of events

that would give me the best bike time,

be multi day events requiring stamina,

solid bike prep and take me out of my

comfort zone. Aside from the requisite

qualification rallies there were a good

few other contenders, of which the

SSDT is naturally one.

A WOBBLER

Now I’ve wobbled around

Lincolnshire on the trials bike for a

few years, I’m not a bad trials rider,

but I’m by no means a great one.

Dougie Lampkin need not worry

about his Belstaff sponsorship. Mid

level clubman rider is probably being

modest on a good day, and generous

on a bad day. I do have fun on a

trials bike though, and, I’m afraid

to say, this isn’t always a popular

approach in many of the clubs I’ve

ridden with. So I tend to be the lad

who’s making the most derogatory

comments at the expense of myself

and the small group I’m riding with,

plus sometimes anyone who seems

a bit too grumpy – this is commonly

referred to as ‘taking the piss’. A lot

like my school reports – if I were to

concentrate a bit more I’d get much

better scores. It’s much more fun

among the jokers at the back though,

eh!? This is playtime after all.

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DAKAR

A lot like my school

reports – if I were

to concentrate a bit

more I’d get much

better scores

Whilst sat on the now slightly famous

‘open plan’ workshop toilet, I stuck a

ballot entry in for the Scottish, as well as

convincing a couple of mates to do the

same. Safe in the knowledge that you

never get in on the first attempt... One

of those old trials misgivings it seems. A

few weeks later, and I’m in. But none of

my mates are. Oh...

As ever, I turned to Google: “How

good a trials rider do you need to be to

complete the SSDT?” I should probably

have checked this before, but the

answer I was looking for was there. “In

theory a decent clubman level rider

should be able to get round, but...”

Perfect. No need to search anymore...

What’s (maybe) interesting about the

events and push bike races I’ve done

in the past is that as well as racing in

the UK I just went over to the Alps and

did some events I fancied there - some

rounds of the Grundig DH World Series

for example, then came home when I

ran out of cash or needed to go back to

college. I was 17/18 and just got up and

went on my own; I’m not sure I asked

if I was ‘allowed’ (I was living at home

with my parents).

It was about the adventure, the

unknown wrapped up into the circus

that is racing. Whole transient towns

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ally

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springing up in the middle of sleepy

mountain villages, shiny kit, vans and

trucks with the back drop of beautifully

unforgiving mountains. Super cool

dudes stood shoulder to shoulder with

wizened mountain men in the little

Alpine bars drinking Aperol Spritz

in their off season from being ski

instructors. I’d found myself. The beauty

of this is that the circus is exactly that –

moving. Every time a slightly different

venue, region or challenge. The

problem of course is that you’re then

forever chasing those early adventures.

Getting back to the Scottish; I’d

watched the Ross Noble SSDT TV

program from last year and hats off

to Ross – he finished, even with the

pressures of tours, his day job and his

first entry, he got round and finished the

week. There are a lot more detractors

that don’t get off their backsides and

will sneer at people, than there are folk

who’ve finished a Scottish, so well done

Ross.

My plan, which isn’t complex, is to

crash through the week taking as few

fives as possible. I’ll be the happiest rider

if I’m getting cleans, I’m sure. If I can

clean one section a day I’ll be made up.

Dougie last year ran totally clean up

right up until the last day, where he put

one foot down. One dab in a whole six

days. Amazing.

WAYNE’S WORLD

Victory favours the prepared, and I

needed all the help I could get, so in

preparation catch up I picked up the

phone and burdened some proper

talent. Wayne Braybrook (trials and

extreme enduro rider of some note)

has supported my rally efforts to date,

and was pretty solid with advice and

motivation at various points. I’ve done

some enduro training days with him

and I love his approach. I’d mentioned

I was doing the Scottish and he’d made

the mistake of offering to help me out

with a few pointers, so I managed to

grow this into a day with him at Pateley

Bridge, North Yorkshire. Lincolnshire

is not renowned for rocky riverbeds.

Nearly all of my trials have been ridden

in Lincolnshire...

So two days after my return from

Merzouga Rally 2019 I was in a

borrowed van heading North up the

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DAKAR

Wayne just asked

rather matter of

factly, “Are you

planning on riding

on THIS?”

A1(M). As the beggar here, I was tied by

Wayne’s other RAW Academy bookings

and his enduro series schedule. I’d gone

as far as starting an otherwise dirty and

dusty trials bike, given the tyres a quick

squeeze and thrown it into the back of

the works van.

Tired, fatigued and I’d got a bit of a

sore shoulder/upper arm after a little

crash in the desert, plus all of the other

standard excuses too. I’d spent about

50 hours of the previous week riding a

rally prepped 450 enduro bike through

huge sand dunes. Then driven home.

I pushed a bit here and there and just

missed out on my target of a podium

in enduro class, coming home 4th and

28th overall. Respectable. Tiring. Not

trials.

I was typically late to arrive and

Wayne was up and out, waiting in

what is a pretty stunning location up

by Gouthwaite Reservoir. Not far from

where, many moons ago, I’d raced my

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ally

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downhill bike in what was then the

NEMBA DH series. Long time ago that!

I apologised for being late and quickly

got into my kit. JB was there with an

array of cameras and some youthful

enthusiasm, having ridden up from

RUST HQ that morning (only a near sixhour

ride on his Suzuki V-Strom XT).

I was given exactly 30 seconds to

compose myself before I was riding up

a rocky river bed, being filmed by JB

and watched eagle eyed by WB. I know

I’m wobbly. Did I mention I’ve got a

poorly shoulder?

DO IT AGAIN.

AND AGAIN.

WB: “One more time Craig, but try and

relax, you’re riding like a novice....

“Right, I can work with this.”

I knew I was gripping the bike

unnecessarily. I knew I was tense and

I knew it looked terrible which made it

even more frustrating.

Wayne watched me pick a line and

ride it a few different ways, and then

we’d walk through it. We dissected every

rock and turn, why I should change

an approach, how I should look to

minimise risk and where the grip is. I’d

have another go. I was slowly heading

back into trials mode. Almost.

Wayne was keen to get me working.

We stepped it up a notch. He was

keen to see me get the bike wedged

in some big rocks, not just for his

amusement, but so I’d a taste of the

physical demands of wrestling a trials

bike from the grip of the kind of mess I’ll

inevitably spend a good amount of time

in during the week of the Scottish. I was

looking for footpeg catchers, looking

for safe grip on rocks I’d instinctively

just try and launch over, and probably

fail, or come into the next rock too fast

and offline. Most importantly, I was

looking to get the bike to work when

getting out of a section, rather than

my skinny cycling arms doing all the

work. I’m a pretty diligent student and

was obligingly getting the bike wedged

firmly pretty much every time I tried to

get up the difficult section. I verified,

between heavy breaths, that I was

SUPPOSED to be getting stuck – and

Wayne was polite enough to confirm...

Wayne had never seen me ride a

trials bike, and has a good few (many!)

Scottish rides under his belt (with a topthree

result I understand). He confirmed

I was not wasting my money and was

keen to point out that he was trying to

compress a recommended three years

of prep into one session!

PUNISH YOURSELF

There’s a more ‘normal’ route to a

successful completion and it seemingly

doesn’t usually start on the toilet when

you’re looking to punish yourself

(hmm, maybe that doesn’t sound right).

Yes, this sounds worse than it is! The

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DAKAR

philosophy and approach obviously

differ to your average local club trial,

with the sections much longer, plus the

‘non stop’ rule – you must continue to

move forward at all times. A real shame

as I’m great at ‘track stands’ and could

stay in one spot almost indefinitely,

also at roll backs, which aren’t allowed

anywhere! Both of my signature moves

are useless to me.

We discussed my bike, how its

shabby appearance and lack of any

maintenance, routine or otherwise,

might need a look into. Actually, after

pumping up the tyres (apparently you

CAN have too little air in a trial tyre)

Wayne just asked rather matter of factly,

“Are you planning on riding on THIS?”

Well, no actually. Seemingly one

of the biggest pitfalls to the average

clubman, after poor fitness and bike

prep, is the administration of getting

around. These are big days on a bike

in trials terms, and the clock is always

ticking. For me it’s a sort of busman’s

holiday, but I’m advised by a number of

finishers that I must push on and not

fall into the trap of thinking I’m actually

on holiday.

With this in mind I’m back into an

area I really am pro at - convincing

myself to buy a new bike. I’ve only ever

ridden my Gas Gas two-strokes in trials,

so we decided that I should buy a new

one (that’s me, my inner self and what

I take to be encouragement from the

assembled crowd of self confessed bike

perverts). There were however none

available. Anywhere. So in a fortuitous

turn of events – as they’re renowned

for being perfect for being able to ‘make

pace’ on the open going (the bit I’ll

probably do OK at) – I found a new and

rather pretty looking Honda Montesa 4rt

in Repsol colours. You can never have

too many bikes…

NEXT TIME

Who knows? We’ll see how Craig gets on at

the Scottish (do also check in on our blogs

on the website). Maybe also Craig will have

news on his chosen machine for the Dakar.

And then there’s the small matter of riding the

Romaniacs. It’s all happening a bit fast…

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ENDURO

meet the new

KING OF SMOOTH

2019 YAMAHA WR450F

Yamaha’s mighty WR450F has been that, mighty – like high and mighty

– almost since its inception. Great for experts, only not so good for

clubmen. But their 2019 WR450F could very well change all that…

Words & Images: JB

ometimes you just need to stop, take a moment to really

observe. At first glance the 2019 Yamaha WR450F looks like a

modest development of the 2018 model (which was in effect

the third year of production of the reverse-cylinder WR that

debuted for the 2016 model year). But if you really stop, take a

look and – as importantly – sift through the details in the spec

sheet, then you’ll see this is pretty much an all-new model.

Yamaha hasn’t given any definitive details on this (percentages

and all) but so much has changed. It looks similar but that’s a new

engine, a new chassis. And so when you get to ride it – yes, a lot has

indeed changed. In WR history this is a significant milestone. w

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2019 Yamaha WR450F

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Of course what’s confusing us here

is the lack of product launch – we’re

used to manufacturers singing from

the highest towers, flooding social

media with teasers, doing a little razzle

dazzle – getting us all excited. Instead,

on this occasion, we’ve come – alone –

to a farmyard in a very wet and wintry

Wales, wheeled out a solitary example

– don’t frighten the cows – and got

on with it! So without the preamble,

without the build up, the story here

really does come as something of a

surprise.

Yep, within yards we could already

tell here was something special. Within

ten minutes we were pretty much sold.

If we weren’t such paupers we’d be

asking: How much? Where do we sign?

Yamaha has made a new WR450F that,

while not quite night and day different

to the last version, is so far removed as

to be a very different animal. The ‘old’

WR we personified as being a touch

brutal, even Yamaha called it “not for the

inexperienced”. Great for rally we said,

but for big guys only when it comes to

“IN MORE THAN ONE WAY

THE WR450F IS DEFINITELY

SPECTACULAR; SPECTACULAR

ENOUGH TO CAUSE A FEW

CONCERNS WITH CERTAIN

COMPETITORS”

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2019 Yamaha WR450F

enduro (talking in a European / woods

context). This new one – well, it’s got

its enduro mojo back. And more than

that, in more than one way it’s definitely

spectacular; spectacular enough to

cause a few concerns with certain

competitors we’re sure…

WHAT’S NEW?

The motor is new. Same concept as

before, being a reverse cylinder set

up, but so many details have changed.

Essentially it’s the new motor that went

into the 2018 YZ450F, now modified

for off-road. That new motor featured

an all-new, lighter cylinder head, with

new cam profiles. Down below there’s a

new crank, the piston now features boxbridge

structure while the gudgeon pin

has been DLC coated. The gearbox has

been fettled with wider surface areas on

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enduro

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2019 Yamaha WR450F

the cogs and dogs, the clutch plates are

updated and there’s a stiffer outer plate.

Significantly the Keihin fuel injection

has been replaced by a Mikuni setup.

The radiators are bigger (but slimmer)

and even the exhaust has been made

shorter for better mass centralization.

And, good news here, the Power Tuner

gadget has been pensioned off, now

you can alter the WR’s tune by using a

phone App, a pretty fancy one too with

neat graphics. By the way, we note the

kick-start has now gone – some weight

saving there!

The chassis is new, too. Again, it

looks like the last one, still being a

bilateral beam frame, but the details

are much changed, with more bracing

in the upper frame for more rigidity,

redesigned rear frame spars and

the engine mounts have moved, so

the engine sits a little more upright.

There’s even what Yamaha call ‘a larger

absorption zone’ (whatever that is?).

Meanwhile that off-road necessity,

the sidestand, is now a thoroughly

European type being tucked high and

tight into the left side of the bike.

Around all this, the bodywork has

been significantly slimmed, most

notably around the radiator shrouds,

while the seat is 2cm narrower at the

mid section and lower through the rear

section; the seat height is in fact 10mm

lower. As well, the air box has been

revised so it’s a no-tool job to open it

up and swap the filter. Yet, while the

bodywork is slimmer the fuel capacity

has been increased, now 7.9 litres

(apparently expandable to 8.5-litres if

you remove an internal funnel).

As you’d imagine, the Kayaba

suspension has again been updated,

taking the units from the new

motocrosser and modifying these to

off-road use. The forks – twin chamber

type – now feature a slightly firmer

spring (was 4.5, now 4.6Nm) and there’s

more oil, too. The shock has the same

weight spring (46Nm) but the coil has

dropped 350 grammes while there’s

30cc more fluid in the reservoir to

combat (heat) fatigue.

In fact when you check the numbers

there are so many changes. That engine

bore and stroke has changed just a

smidge, it was 97.0 x 60.8mm to give

449cc, but it’s now 97.0 x 60.9mm to

give a full 450cc. Small difference there,

but its confirmation of change. Likewise

the compression ratio has been raised

from 12.5 to 12.8:1. Numbers like these

might make you think that Yamaha has

been tuning the beast up all the more,

but not so (as we’ll explain later).

Likewise the chassis numbers are

changing too. Wheelbase in 2018 is

listed as 1465mm, now it’s 1480mm

– this in part would seem to come from

a relaxed steering head angle which

has been let out nearly a whole degree

(now 27º) while trail is slightly more

at 116mm (was 114mm). Seat height,

as said, has been lowered from 965 to

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THE YAMAHA

WR450F’S

Best bits

1. THE POWER TUNER APP

This should make things easier, especially as we’re

talking Wi-Fi here, not a plug-in. The App works with

a Communication Control Unit (part of the WR’s

race kit) which as well as adjusting the fuelling and

ignition maps will also give useful information like

intake and ambient air temperatures, maintenance

scheduling, system diagnostics, engine run time, it’ll

even keep a race log. So while you can dial the power

down with the blue button, you can dial it down more

with the App. How gentle would you like your 450?

2. THE REDUCED STATURE

The old WR450F was a big beast, tall

and sometimes vicious. This new one

is lower in the seat by 10mm, but by

being 20mm narrower in that seat it’s

also again much easier to get boot to

the floor. The narrower radiator shrouds

mean you can get your weight further

forward for cornering, while the lower

rear frame rails mean it’s easier to sling a

leg over. It really is significantly smaller.

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2019 Yamaha WR450F

3. THE SUSPENSION

Kayaba are a quality brand and their SSS dual

cartridge USD forks are positively benchmark

for the industry. They can be stiff when brand

new (on our 2015 WR250F we backed off the

compression adjusters both on the fork and

shock totally until we had about 10 hours on

them) but once bedded-in they are sublime

and they can keep their performance for long

service intervals. On the 2019 WR450F they

gave magic carpet smoothness.

4. THE COHESIVE DESIGN

In the past the poor WR450F has suffered

for being a bit awkward with some details.

Sharp motor, clunky headlight, sticky-out

sidestand, and bulbous bodywork. It wasn’t

far wrong – hey, in Australia the WR450F

is the top selling dirt bike – but it needed

tidying, focus. This 2019 model has that

focus, it’s sleek and purposeful, and

someone in their R&D he knows enduro –

or perhaps he just knows who to talk to.

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955mm. And all-up weight (fully fuelled)

has dropped from 123 to 119kg. With a

new fuel capacity of 7.9 litres we make

that around 113kg dry. KTM suggest

their 450EXC-F weighs 106kg without

fuel. Certain sources suggest further

weight savings can be had by swapping

to a li-ion battery. All in all, the Yamaha

has dropped the kilos and the bulk.

They allude to 250-size proportions,

which is a touch optimistic (probably

250 dimensions back in 1999!), but

absolutely it is smaller.

THE RIDE

Point being, while still being a

significant motorcycle (you know, big

bike) the WR450F is most certainly a

lot less intimidating than it used to be

and you could say – let’s say it – it’s a

whole lot more user friendly. The old

WR450F experience was akin to being a

monkey on the back of startled stallion.

Pretty wild, certainly very exciting. But

you knew you were the monkey, and

as a monkey you were no match for the

pure bred you were clinging to. With

the new WR450F it is at last not only

working with you, but flattering you.

Even if you’re just a club rider. Really.

The engine feels way tamer than

it was, without in any way being

emasculated. It still has the speed. In

a way we’re almost relieved it doesn’t

have a sixth gear because when you

hold onto the revs in fifth it’s already

incredibly fast. Mumbo for sure. But it

doesn’t light up the way it used to. You

could live in fear of the bottom end snap

of the old WR, in sketchy slippery going

it was hair-trigger stuff. There’s none of

that nonsense with the new WR450F,

this is civilized stuff, there’s authority

still, but you – not it – determine the

pace. We hauled up some honking nice

climbs and on these the WR450F is pure

joy – just get balanced and pour on the

coals, in fact you pour on only so much

because it flies.

The important thing is the finesse is

there. You can play with the throttle and

what you get is what you asked for. Yet

the power is so big you also have that

wonderful choice – lug or rev. You can

be two gears above where you should

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2019 Yamaha WR450F

SPECIFICATION

2019 YAMAHA WR450F

ENGINE : liquid-cooled DOHC

single-cylinder four-stroke

CAPACITY: 450cc

BORE & STROKE: 97x60.9mm

COMPRESSION RATIO: 12.8:1

FUELING: Mikuni fuel injection,

44mm throttle body

IGNITION: TCI

STARTING: Electric only

GEARBOX: Five-speed

CLUTCH: Wet multiplate, cable

actuation

Final drive Chain

FRAME: Semi double cradle,

aluminium

FRONT SUSPENSION: USD 49mm

Kayaba SSS dual chamber, travel

310mm

REAR SUSPENSION: Monoshock

Kayaba, linkage, travel 318mm

FRONT BRAKE: 270mm disc, twinpiston

caliper

REAR BRAKE: 245mm disc

TYRES: 90/90-21 130/90-18

CLAIMED WET WEIGHT: 119kg

SEAT HEIGHT: 955mm

WHEELBASE: 1480mm

FUEL CAPACITY: 7.9-litres

PRICE: £7599 (UK) €8799 (EU)

$13,299 (AUS) $9599 (US)

CONTACT: www.yamaha-motor.eu

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testing admittedly – the best OEM

suspension we’ve ever tested, and this

bike wasn’t even fully run-in. So good

you just stopped looking at the bumps,

the rocks, the ruts, the suspension was

dealing with it all single handed. When

going through the whoops, where you

might mistime and nosedive into the

up-face of the next whoop… that was

just not an issue, the forks absorbed

the hits with not so much as a shock

through the bars. You could just

ride into everything. We didn’t even

look at the clickers. For a rider who

weighs close to 100kg in his gear (and

admittedly isn’t that fast, real middleleague

aging clubman) this was just

perfection, although no doubt a tuner

could improve them even more.

Ahh yes, there’s that one small

omission we’ve made. We’ve got to give

credit for so much of this impressive

performance to ‘the blue button’.

You see Yamaha has included a twoenduro

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be, but the WR450F shrugs it off and

pulls you through anyway. Allied to this

is the new lighter clutch, which despite

being a cable actuation is actually

remarkably light.

And added to this – the good news

keeps coming – the reduced bulk

of the new WR450F means you’re

not left physically struggling. It’s no

longer skyscraper tall, barge-wide. It’s

lower and narrower, so you feel more

comfortable and more able to be the

boss. The more we rode the WR450F

the more we started carving the forest.

It now turns in a very balanced way,

there’s a sense of evenness front to

back that was missing before, and yet it

turns tight while still being super stable

at speed, like a properly balanced bike

should.

By the way, it’s still loud for the

rider given the air box is right under

your chin booming away. It didn’t

seem as loud as the WR250F’s air box

curiously enough, but still earplugs are

recommended. That loudness is for the

rider mostly, away from the bike the

noise is respectfully muted.

Now for the cream, the icing, the

coup de grace… Behold the Kayaba

suspension. Which. Is. Simply. Sublime.

Oh boy, those KYB technicians deserve

a huge bonus, for this suspension setup

is divinity itself. There’s subtlety

and control of the highest order and it

stands to elevate an already excellent

package into something ethereal. Okay,

maybe we’re getting too prosaic there,

but this has to be – based on one day’s

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2019 Yamaha WR450F

“LIGHTER, SMALLER,

LOWER, LESS VIOLENT,

MORE ACCURATE,

MORE AGILE, MORE

COMFORTABLE. MORE…

JUST MORE, THE WAY

LESS IS OFTEN MORE”

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ENDURO

map option for when you’re riding. A

standard map, and when you push the

button on the left handlebar – and it

lights up blue – a traction map. It’s that

traction map that works so well in the

woods. It tames the power, but it doesn’t

take it away, the bike still revs out, still

shifts like a good ‘un, but without the

old fear factor. In standard map the

WR450F is still so much tamer than ever

before and we’d use this mode for say

sand riding and big open fast stuff, but

in Wales, 95% of the time (that 5% was

just for scientific purposes – so let’s say

100% of the time) we’d ride with the blue

light on.

Were there any negatives? Got to

think… Did we mention the Metzeler

Six Day enduro tyres fitted as standard?

Nice touch. Yeah, that’s not a negative.

Ahh yes, hot starting was a bit of an

issue. Typically when we start our

enduros these days the trick is to just

press the starter, nothing else. But with

the WR, curiously, it liked the smallest

crack of the throttle to get it lit. Once

you had it figured (or were told how)

then it wasn’t a problem.

And one more negative, quite a

significant one. For Europe, the new

WR doesn’t come EU homolgated. It

is being sold, in essence, as an offroad

competition bike. That could be

a real issue where an enduro includes

legal highways. In the UK we have an

exemption that allows competition

enduro bikes to be registered –

something undertaken by the owner,

not the manufacturer – so you can

still register and ride the WR legally on

the road, but in other countries more

extreme action might need to be taken.

Hopefully this won’t take the shine off

the sales pitch.

JUST WOW

You know, what shines through is the

thoroughness of Yamaha’s revisions.

They’ve got experience in enduro that

spans decades – DTs in the 1970s, ITs

in the 1980s, the WR two-strokes in the

1990s and since the 2000s the WR-Fs.

Every now and again they go slightly

off the boil, but when Yamaha bring

their A-game, as they have here, then

we’re blown away. There’s clearly been

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2019 Yamaha WR450F

attention given to rider feedback, as well

as the attention to detail and the sheer

quality that Yamaha has bestowed upon

this WR450F.

Simply to look at, this is one

handsome bike. The bike is sleek. And

the details speak of Yamaha’s Shifulike

understanding of the sport. The

airbox is no-nonsense. The sidestand

is properly tucked away. The new skid

plate is far more protective (offering

the water pump a place to hide) but

also fits so much better, so it’ll pack less

mud. The headlamp unit is so much

slimmer front-to-back, and so is now

not offensive the way the old one was.

That map switch – it operates on the fly,

no need to hold a steady throttle or to

stop, switch off etc, just hit it whenever

you need.

The new WR450F is lighter, smaller,

lower, less violent, more accurate,

more agile, more comfortable. More…

just more, the way less is often more.

Its still a 450, still one of the most

powerful 450s, too – so lower-order

European enduro riders might still

want to approach with some caution

– but everyone else, from desert racers

in Australia and the US, to trail riders

everywhere, and to European enduro

riders of some standing, this is some

bike – you really want to ride one.

Just wow.

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LONG TERMER

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HONDA CRF250RX

HONDA CRF250RX

RUST has a 2019 Honda CRF250RX on long-term test (oh yeah!). As replacement for the CRF250X

it’s both long awaited and much anticipated. So how much is it race and how much trail?

Words & Images: JB

This Honda CRF250RX has

about as much in common

with its predecessor, the

CRF250X, as the X had with

the XR250 that went before it. Okay

the frame looks similar, both are

lateral beam type in aluminium, and

the colour – yes, red – but after that,

this is an all-new bike, with an allnew

demeanour.

It’s one helluva trade-up, in

evolutionary terms, that takes us

on a transition from a 28hp gentle

trailie to a 45hp screaming banshee

of a racer – in one giant leap. The

RX is all about sharp race-winning

potential; it has the capability to

take on the best of European enduro

tackle and quite possibly win. But

before doing that, maybe we should

figure if it’s the best from Japan, as

we can’t overlook that other Oriental

wunderkind, the WR250F.

THE TECH

How much we should go on about

the tech is debatable, after all there’s

Honda’s own website with all the

data, so why copy all that info?

What’s significant – we should cover

that, though. Like the motor. It’s no

longer a Uni-cam (kind of SOHC),

now a twin-cam (DOHC) unit. It

seems when it comes to extracting

LONG TERMER

PART TWO

WHAT

WE DID…

The Honda’s very first

run was the Brechfa

Rally, one super-chilly

late winter weekend.

Just 190 miles of fast

trails over two days – a

nice way to run-in the

motor, maybe! After that

we shot over to Yamaha

Off-Road Experience

in even-deeper Wales

to check out its

performance against a

class benchmark – the

Yamaha WR250F. As

a way to get to know

the little red rooster we

figured a good eight

hours in the saddle

might do it.

maximum go from a small fourstroke

unit this is the way to go, not

to mention the fitting of Titanium

valves with oval springs and twin

exhaust ports (and so twin exhausts).

This motor debuted in the 2018

season in Honda‘s CRF250R

motocrosser, it got updated for the

2019 season (improved, with 9%

more top end honk) and it’s this

very engine that sits in the RX, with

very few modifications. The motor,

physically, seems all but identical,

it’s the electronics package that’s

changed, having been given new

(‘softer’) ignition and fuelling maps to

suit off-road application. Otherwise,

the top end performance and just

about everything is identical to the

CRF250R. So for an off-roader it’s one

potent package.

Likewise Honda has done the

minimum to adjust the chassis to

off-road. There’s an 18” rear wheel, a

larger 8.5-litre tank and a sidestand

while the suspension has been given

off-road settings, including a lighter

spring rate in the forks. It is then

barely an off-roader and certainly a

long way from a conventional enduro

bike – don’t be fooled by the lighting

kit so neatly applied by Honda UK,

this thing is no trail bike – to use the

cliché, it’s weapons-grade.

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THE RIDE

It is, though, a Honda – and it’s rare

that Honda make downright evil bikes

(although by heck they can make potent

ones, like the legendary CR250). And

with this CRF250RX, for all the potency

it maintains a sense of civility. There’s

a lot of power to discover, but the long

and linear rev of this engine means it’s

delivered without surprises, you dial in

only as much or as little as you want.

The pull from the low end isn’t

obviously strong but it is consistent, it

doesn’t bog, instead it digs deep and

delivers. If it’s not coming fast enough

then dip the clutch and get the revs

up, then it truly leaps forward. Mid-totop

brings only more creamy-linear

delivery. At first, while the engine

was tight, it all felt like it was too little,

and too short. Fifth gear is found

early as the gearing is close ratio and

short. But when the engine loosened

up and the full range of the rev was

discovered (14,400rpm is a long-long

way out) you find there’s a heap more

on tap. Sometimes you think you’re

fully tapped out only to find another

3mm of throttle cable and with that the

motor winds up another octave! It is

some engine, for sure, and wrung out

it makes sweet music, at least for those

that like high-pitched screaming fourstrokes.

Handling is also so very Honda and

not a little unlike the CRF250X. It rides

stable and kind of low feeling. Maxed

out on fire roads it was impressively

stable – not a worry – but it was equally

happy flicking through the tight stuff.

Perhaps not quite as sharp turning as

a KTM, but there’s not that much bulk

to this bike so quick steering in this

category is all relative – you’re not really

wanting for more turn-in, that is for

sure. The low-riding feeling reminded

me of how the old CRF250X used to feel

great on a grass test, it kind of hoovered

along and you felt a lot of confidence

and a lot of feedback from the tyres; the

RX is similar, a bike you can press into a

turn with your outside thigh and knee

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HONDA CRF250RX

and gently push it deeper, tighter into

the turn.

The suspension is very good. It

bedded in quickly and with no time

spent on the clickers – just riding

exactly as it came out of the box – it

felt pretty damn good, smooth and

competent. Perhaps it could be a little

more supple on the small choppy

roots, but equally with some time and

attention applied to the adjusters that

could come in any case. But out of the

box, it felt good, real good.

Ergonomics are surprisingly

comfortable for a 6’0” rider. It’s probably

more rangy than you first think, and

there’s no feeling of being scrunched

up or pushed too far over the bars.

Talking of the bars – Renthal Fat Bars

(a nice fitting) – these feel low but

suitably so, so you’re more connected to

what’s going on. Seat-footpeg-handlebar

spacing all felt good, too. Very natural –

so very Honda.

It’s kind of odd. The RX is almost

twice as powerful as the old X, yet it’s

no mad axe, it retains the old bike’s

accessibility and ease of use. It lacks

the six-speed wide-ratio gearbox,

the hydraulic clutch and a few of the

trimmings we expect from an enduro

(although, as said, Honda UK have

plugged most of the gap there) – and is

clearly meant to be a cross-over machine

for motocross and cross-country type

events – but enduro is easily within its

capabilities. Put the engine mapping

into the smooth option (there are three:

smooth, standard and aggressive) and the

X-type nature is all the more apparent,

the RX really can be very peaceable, and a

real traction-master.

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THE COMPARISON

So, we pitched the RX against a new

2019 Yamaha WR250F. The WR got a

few updates in 2018, including boosted

bottom-to-mid thanks to a new

cylinder head design with reshaped

ports and a shortened intake funnel,

and a new frame, essentially that of the

2018 YZ250F which features a wider

central beam.

It still largely feels like the old WR250F,

but the new motor character is obvious,

it punches a lot harder off the bottom.

And while the chassis has been updated

the general responses are largely the

same. Compared to the Honda, the

Yamaha feel taller, and in tight stuff,

tippier!

Here at RUST we had a 2015 WR250F

for about three seasons and grew to

love that bike. Most notably it came

with a full Akrapovic titanium exhaust,

and just as at the original launch, we

preferred the way the WR ran on that

pipe – the Akra seems to smooth out

the motor, it runs sweeter bottom to top

(and sounds better too – without being

that much louder). Our test Yamaha

on this occasion had the stock pipe

fitted and this, explained Dylan Jones

of the Yamaha Off-Road Experience,

accentuates the new bottom end torque

hit and so at YORE they too prefer the

power delivery of the WR with the Akra.

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MODS SO FAR

Even though this isn’t our bike, we couldn’t

bring ourselves to trashing the OEM

plastics. So opted to put these carefully

away (to refit on that imaginary resale)

and fit an Acerbis full replica plastics kit,

to which we added a set of X-Grip frame

protectors and X-Ultimate hand guards (all

of this stuff is great quality and fitting is

a doddle). The standard sump plate looks

pretty good so we’ve left this for now.

Our planned custom graphics weren’t

available in time for this test (as you can

see), but will come from LR Designs ready

for the next outing. Likewise, we rode on

OEM Dunlop AT81 tyres – which are a

cross-country off-road spec tyre –but will

be changing to European competition

homologated (as required by ACU rules)

Metzeler Six Days for regular enduro

riding.

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Riding around a short course in the

woods, swapping between the Honda

and Yamaha, here’s what we found:

1. The Yamaha’s front end felt more

planted – this could be a tyre thing

(Honda: Dunlop, Yamaha: Metzeler).

2. The Honda’s linear power delivery

made pulling up a slippery uphill

switchback a lot easier than on the

Yamaha where the thumping bottom

end was sort of all or nothing – you

needed to be on top of things with

the Yamaha.

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HONDA CRF250RX

3. The Yamaha’s six gears make no

difference in the tight stuff, but once

on open trails it gives the blue bike

the longer legs with less rev.

4. The Honda feels to ride lowish, the

Yamaha taller.

5. The Honda’s 8.5-litre tank is wider

than the Yamaha’s 7.5-litre unit, so

it’s that much broader across the

front. For European short-lap enduros

we could probably have got away

with the motocross tank and had an

altogether slimmer set-up. It’s not a

big deal, but you’ll notice it.

6. Yes, the Yamaha which we’ve often

typified as a screamer, feels like

grunter in its current tune when

matched with the Honda.

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HONDA CRF250RX

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One thing was for certain; the Honda

was in for the fight. While still having

a five-speed gearbox and still being

not much more than a lightly modified

motocrosser it was able to match the

enduro-specific Yamaha in a woods

environment. Dylan says the Yamaha

actually better suits a more experienced

clubman rider, rather than an absolute

beginner as it’s quite a hi-po machine

and certainly in the slippery winter

conditions we rode in, the Yamaha

took a little more input than the Honda

to navigate its way around the tracks.

That’s not to say the Honda is so much

easier to ride, or better, but the two are

very different.

In what was quite a short test we

couldn’t establish a clear winner, but we

could tell that the Honda is right on the

money and every inch a match for the

Yamaha, which pretty much makes it a

match for anything in the class.

SO, FOR NOW

For now we’re super-happy with the

Honda. It’s that sweet mix of being

real easy to ride – as 250cc four-stroke

enduros should be – and actually very

competitive, too. It’s suits this older,

slower clubman rider, but it stands to

make him faster and more competitive

too, as it asks little and delivers big. We

can’t wait to try it in a local enduro.

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adventure

RIDING THE

BRECHFA RALLY

You’d have thought after nearly freezing in the 2018 Brechfa Rally – and

positively dying at the controls of the Yamaha Ténéré 660 – we’d have steered

clear of the 2019 event. Not so, we went back for more, only with a much lighter

bike! It was still brutally cold and for two-thirds of the event it rained, but you

know, it’s still so much fun and the people are so welcoming, it’s hard to think of

a better thing to do on a winter’s weekend (we clearly have limited imagination)…

Words & Images: JB

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When the paddock looks like this

you need a little self-motivation

to get out there and do it. That or

a Honda CRF250RX, which had

JB enjoying every minute!

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The Brechfa Rally

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adventure

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1

2

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The Brechfa Rally

1 2 3

Waiting for the start, there’s

no point standing in the

wind and the cold, so most

crowded into the old cow

barn for some shelter.

It looks fairly empty in this

shot, but at the end of each lap

the barn and the burger/tea

trailer kept body temperatures

up and spirits high while

riders waited for their minute

Waiting for the start the sun

came out – just to fool a

few. Full waterproofs were

the call! Note the humble

environment, if you’re after

glamour this isn’t for you…

3

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Spare a thought for the guys

who organize these events,

in this case all volunteers.

So while three nights

prepping the Honda felt like a fair

effort that’s nothing compared

to the months of preparations

the Dyfed Dirt Bike Club put

into the event. Dylan Williams

(Clerk of the Course) explained

the first permission requests are

made a full six months before

the event. Route plotting starts

about a month out, a fortnight

out the arrowing begins, the

weekend before the special test

gets taped and arrowed, then the

Friday before the Saturday start

there’s the last run around to

ensure the course is all in place.

That involves a core working

crew of 20 but over the weekend

of the rally the team swells.

There are 12 riding marshals, 10

static marshals, seven people

controlling the special test then

the team who are manning the

check as riders start and finish

each lap. So three nights fiddling

with the CRF – that’s nothing…

4

4

Rally has evolved into

something of an enduro-lite

type competition. Where

adventure bikes and trail

bikes used to roam it’s now

become a game for enduros.

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The Brechfa Rally

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The Brechfa Rally

5

6

5 6

The Dyfed club put together a

35 miles lap, including an eightminute

special test, all repeated

three times on each day. A lot of

it was through managed forest.

When the sun shone briefly it

was quite pretty!

To give the enduro bikes a bit

more challenge there were greenarrowed

(optional) enduro loops

where traditional deep Welsh ruts

were to be found in abundance.

This bit is an easy section.

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adventure

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7 7

Logging roads make up part of

the course. The temptation would

be to ride these flat out. But we

didn’t, no. Of course not...

Are amateur motorcycle

clubs still valid in these

days of professionally run

events? On the basis of the

Dyfed Dirt Bike Club they are, for

the good they put back, as Dylan

Williams explained:

“As a club we’re not in it to

make money, we donate all our

profits to charitable causes. Since

our inception we’ve raised over

£40,000, and £6000 of that last

year went to a children’s ward at

a local hospital. It’s about giving

back to our community and

putting dirt biking in people’s

good books.”

It goes further than that, too.

Ten of the static marshals at

the Brechfa came from the

local Llangrannog Rowing Club

– there’s an exchange here, the

rowers support the bikers at the

Brechfa while the Dyfed DBC

guys support (and sponsor) the

rowers in their annual Celtic

Challenge rowing race across

the Irish Sea. Great community

action.

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The Brechfa Rally

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8 9 10

There really isn’t anything

to get you into too much

trouble with rally but as

with all off-road you have

to expect a little groveling

from time to time.

As the event includes the use of

public roads and public space the

local Police have to be notified

and they get involved – in a

good way, you kind of get the

impression this is one of their

more enjoyable jobs, eh?

If the rain doesn’t

get you wet, then the

water splashes will.

8

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9

10

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adventure

11

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11

Sometime you just chill

out – after all, the lap is

loose on time so you can

opt take your time and

check out the countryside.

12

RUST had more van that

was really needed, but it

at least offered plenty of

space for hanging/drying

all the kit.

12

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The Brechfa Rally

FANCY A GO?

The All Terrain Rally Challenge is a

five round series, Brechfa being the

opener. Remaining dates for 2019

are:

July 6-7: Ryedale Rally (Yorkshire)

August 17-18: Beacons Rally (Wales)

September 21-22 Circuit of Mann

(Isle of Man)

October (dates TBC): Hafren Rally

(Wales)

To find more information

including classes, rules etc go to

www.rallymoto.co.uk

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LONG TERMER

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HUSQVARNA FE350

LONG TERMER

PART FOUR

HUSQVARNA FE350

Our long term Husqvarna FE350 hasn’t stood still, but race developments have

stalled while Warren has been establishing a permanent base in Portugal. And

with 2019 season plans modified the FE350 is to get a new stablemate…

Words: Warren M.

The evolution of our Husqvarna FE350

and my constant tinkering with it has

me in love. Perhaps it also has to do

with the fact that I am riding more

than I have in years and that RUST has a new

garage / workshop in Portugal that is so much

more pleasant a place to spend time in than its

functional but basic predecessor.

While JB’s garage upgrade is coming to an

end (translation: already jammed full of the

family’s outdoor detritus – JB), mine is just

beginning. I’m hoping to finish the work by

the end of the summer and to keep heading

out each week riding. My plans for the Bajas

championship here in Portugal seems to be

playing second fiddle to life demands. I have

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LONG TERMER

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lingering chest and sinus infection; my

son’s preparing for his 18th birthday and

A-level exams; we’re in the middle of

house renovations, and a family health

emergency back in Aussie had Mrs M.

on a plane same day and gone for a

few weeks, leaving the lads to fend for

ourselves.

It looks like I might just make the

mid-season round of the Bajas at the

end of May and only because it’s close

to my home here. There’ll be a big break

in the calendar over the summer (it’s

just too hot to be racing) before it kicks

off again in September with the season

coming to a climax at the Portelegré

500 at the end of October – I won’t be

missing that one!

My son will be at Uni by then, the

renovations should be complete and

hopefully life will return to being a more

mundane and uneventful affair. Great

for getting out and riding.

After complaining I was wearing out

the FE350 by riding so many hours, JB

and I have been knocking around the

idea of me possibly making the 2020

season a two-bike affair – one race bike

and one practice bike – and me doing

the Baja championship properly. I liked

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HUSQVARNA FE350

the idea and so I placed an order for

a new 2020 FE350 this past week. I’m

loving the current 2017-19 bike so much

that I did not want to replace it with two

new 2020 bikes sight unseen. I know

there are a few changes due on the 2020

bike but I’m going to wait and see what

I think of them before I make a further

decision on the second bike.

The take away point is that I am

sticking with the FE350 as my primary

choice of enduro machine. The motor

is wonderful and as I have tinkered with

it I have found a near perfect setup for

me. It’s only taken a few years to find

the right bike and then find the right

set-up, but I couldn’t be happier. Riding

is all about confidence and I am riding

with more confidence now than I have

since I was in my teens and it’s mainly

down to the bike being so predictable,

responsive and smooth.

In my feature ‘In search of the perfect

setup’ – set for RUST #43 – I provide

some insights into my approach to

setting up a race bike and what works

for me and perhaps what may work for

you.

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FITNESS ABOVE 40

FAST AND

FUTUREPROOF

Fitness above 40

Our Warren is a fitness nut. Loves a gym, been going for years.

So based on his progress specifically over the last four years with

RUST, going between gym, track (and hospital!) he’s putting

down in a series of articles his fitness tips for the over forties

Words: Warren Images: JB

FIRST AN OVERVIEW

As the first article in this series I wanted

to address my fundamental approach to

fitness and nutrition in an overview, rather

than jumping in to providing you with

programs and menus first without any context.

I have addressed some key points for you to

consider for yourself and think about. What is it that

you are trying to achieve? Having a clear mind and

understanding of what you want to get out of training

is a key point before you begin. Set realistic goals that

you can click off like laps, this will get you comfortable

with your new surroundings and routine. It will build

consistency and confidence that will improve both

your mental and physical agility on the bike and

positively impact on your riding capability.

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FITNESS

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MINDSET

Things change, for us old-timers

they have already changed and will

continue to do so at an alarming rate

and seemingly at a faster pace as you

get older. Weight is more difficult to

keep off and finding motivation can

sometimes be a challenge. And in

general – things hurt!

It is also important to recognise that

the brain lies! You can’t do what you

used to do in the gym, you need to

be smarter than that. If you try and

maintain the same regime you did

in your twenties you will never make

consistent fitness work for you. The

result will be an injury or just getting

sick and tired of being sore all the time.

Take your time and build up to where

you want to be – it’s more rewarding

to be able to stick with a program

that provides you a good balance of

sustainable fitness. There is no greater

force to being able to improve your

riding – while making your life in

general more functional and rewarding

– than a balanced health program.

Having the right mindset is crucial

to a successful lifestyle and age is just

a number. I count myself lucky, I’ve

never been massively overweight or

lacked motivation but I have struggled

with consistency, I think we all do.

It is important that you set a goal for

yourself, not one for anyone else, or

what you feel you should be able to

achieve, just simply one that you CAN

achieve. Each small win should leave

you feeling satisfied that you have

accomplished the task you have set

yourself.

BE REALISTIC

Over the past 40 years or so, I have tried

so many training regimes, new fads,

nutrition variations, and in the end I

discovered that I had to first recognise

why I could not stick with them. I had

to know what was holding me back

and what my weaknesses were and

try to establish my own mindset when

it came to exercise. I had to forgive

myself when I failed to maintain my

consistency and establish a pathway to

being able to adjust my lifestyle so that

I managed more frequently to find the

motivation I needed to make the effort

to stay fit.

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FITNESS ABOVE 40

THE KEY IS TO BE REALISTIC.

Do you dream of the Dakar? Do you

want to be able to finish a two-hour

Hare & Hounds at a consistent pace

in the expert or clubman class? Or do

you want just enough oomph to get

out there and enjoy a good day’s trail

ride with your buddies on a Sunday

morning and a good beer afterwards?

Whatever your goal, that’s okay.

I am not a qualified trainer or fitness

coach and my intent in sharing training

and nutrition tips with you over this

series of articles and videos is merely

an insight from someone who has

loved riding for over 40 years and has

gained a little insight into what can

make a transformative difference in

your enjoyment of riding as well as

your ability on the bike. Not to mention

that it makes riding safer. Mental agility

when you’re tired helps you make better

decisions in dangerous situations.

EMBRACE YOUR PERSONALITY

For me, I have come to recognise and

embrace my personality on and off the

bike and use this knowledge to develop

a program that works for me.

I am highly competitive and keen to

make sure I am able to ride at the best

pace I can for as many years as I can.

I’m a risk taker and I like to live life to

the limit, and my approach to training

is no different. I have had the benefit of

many personal trainers over the years, a

few nutritionists and have experienced

the outcomes of their directed

approaches. I’ve taken those elements

that have worked for me and discarded

those that I felt were not helpful and

have now come up with a personal

program and training methodology

that is begged, borrowed and stolen

to sculpt a specific program for me as

an off-road rider/racer. I hope you will

find something of use to you, even if it’s

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FITNESS

FITNESS ABOVE 40

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only to do as I have done and borrow

snippets from what I am going to be

sharing with you.

MOTIVATION

1. Take small steps – it makes it easy to

maintain motivation.

2. Spend some time on getting to know

yourself. Knowing what to expect

from your mind is like taking a track

walk. If you know what’s coming you

can prepare for it.

PROGRAMS

My training program is a pretty simple

hybrid that combines R.U.S.T. (Random

Unilateral Strength Training), functional

training, a few cross-fit principles,

cycling and riding.

I will be sharing programs and

nutrition tips starting in the next issue

and online at www.rustsports.com

NUTRITION

I recognise that each of us is vastly

different and what may be reasonable

for one person might be a bridge too

far for another. My personal affliction

is that I live with a devil on one

shoulder and while I’m able to be pretty

disciplined most of the time I have an

innate yearning to let the dogs loose

from time to time. I’ve come to accept

that this is part of who I am and in so

doing I have some to realise that a good

balanced life (in my case going from

one extreme to another) is best managed

by keeping the extremes less severe.

Now I’m able to enjoy life by having the

occasional party and riding the way I

want to with the fitness I need.

Hopefully my nutrition tips will help

you rationalise a gradual change to

getting the best out of the food you eat

and will prove helpful in finding what

works for you.

NEXT TIME

Well, that’s it for an introduction. Next

time we’ll get properly into designing

your own personal fitness programme

A DISCLAIMER

Given the nanny states we live in I would like to advise you

that you should ignore everything I write or say. You should

not watch any of the videos and for your own safety please

do not follow any of my comments on nutrition. In fact,

please be careful that you don’t strain yourself lifting any of

the devices you may need to. Seriously… if you are in any

doubt about your state of health please consult a health

professional, take out insurance and always train with a

health and safety officer present. I take no responsibility

whatsoever for anything I say or do and for any of you that

decide to follow my ramblings you do so at your own risk.

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MARV’S LOOKING AT YOU, AND HE AIN’T HAPPY

Why isn’t Marv happy? Could be because he lost the

2019 AMA SX title. But it’s not that. It’s because Marv

sees, knows, all. And he knows you haven’t subscribed

to RUST yet. And in our moto-universe that’s a badbad

thing. It show’s your ignorance, your lack of care.

So make Marv happy, get educated and find your own

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LATEST GEAR

Stuff

TCX COMP EVO 2 MICHELIN BOOTS

Contact: US/RoW: www.tcxboots.com UK: www.nevis.uk.com

RRP: UK: £399

First of all these are a very modern and

beautiful looking boot, they look great.

You may be expecting something

special given the Michelin name, but I

suspect this is much more marketing than

anything else and in my opinion it doesn’t

bring anything significant to the boot.

Now Warren and JB had me wear these

boots as being a trail tour guide I get to ride

long hours and big distances, so I’m a good

tester for products such as these. And so far

I’ve ridden in these boots for around 1500

kilometres.

My first impression was that the Evo Comp

2s were really comfortable and easy to adjust

to your foot and to fit with knee guards –

especially given that nowadays knee guards

have been getting so much bigger, always a

concern with the boots. The straps are good

and easy to tighten and when you’re in and

out of boots every day this is definitely a big

plus.

Although these boots aren’t made for

walking (opposite to the song!) they are

comfortable and were sweet even on those

first days, so no blisters, no calluses! Like

many a technical boot, they are a bit noisy

when you walk due to the double flex control

on the back. On the inside the boots are also

great, very modern with very good finishes.

They look like a sportswear shoe.

The performance has been very good, I like

the high level of protection they offer as well

as the comfort – no small praise given my last

boots, a pair of Gaerne SG12s, are a hard act to

follow. There is the odd issue though. On the

area of the instep I find these boots are bulky

and on the 500EXC I use for the tours I had to

adjust my gearshift and brake levers. As well,

I definitely felt that in the area of the instep

they were not quite grippy enough. It seems

to me that they should have built that patch

in another material or at least with some relief

so that in the area of contact with the shift

lever there exists more grip.

Back to the positives – the boots have

been very water resistant. Running through

puddles of water and on rainy days the boots

have kept my feet dry, which is a very positive

and important aspect given long riding

days. And after 1500km you can see the only

obvious wear has been some abrasion on the

left sole.

In all, these are a good looking, comfortable

boot that while not claimed to be waterproof

have so far not let water in. You may have to

make some adjustments to match your shift

and brake lever but the upside is that you can

easily wear these boots for 12 hours without

any problem or desire for taking them off.

This is as you may imagine is very important

to me! And finally, given the extended test so

far, I’m impressed they still look like new!

Pedro Matos

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LATEST GEAR

Stuff

ACERBIS X-SEAT

Contact: www.acerbis.it

RRP: EU: €189.99

More class than arse! Buying and fitting an Acerbis X-seat (comfort/soft) is

definitely not a bum steer. This is the only seat that I have used that over

three days riding or more has left me feeling human rather than sporting

a severe case of monkey butt – especially in the wet!

The comfort seat is easy to fit, has loads of grip, and is waterproof so does not

take on water like the OEM ones do. The X-Seat is unique in that it uses internal

expanded foam that is moulded in a one-piece shape (no base, no staples, no vinyl

cover and no upholstery foam) so it keeps the bike light in wet conditions. More

importantly it’s comfortable, it has raised ridges that align under each bone in

your bum cheeks and creates an airflow channel down the middle of the seat to

keep the ventilation at optimal levels – and did I say that it keeps the seat dry? That

translates into a dry and happy rear end. All of these features combine to make it a

superb investment in personal comfort.

I found the shape of the seat to be slightly flatter than the stock seat (I liked it) but

it felt narrower so bigger bottoms may not get on as well with this seat a skinnier

one would. The grip was better than OEM but not as harsh as a gripper seat. It

won’t be pulling down your trousers but I felt it aided in my transitions over the

seat during a race. It also felt like the seat would be less prone to wear and tear from

knee braces, which can be brutal on stock seat covers.

The downside is the price – yes it’s pricey, but if you want hours of comfort then

perhaps it’s worth it to you, for me it’s definitely worth the investment.

Warren M.

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Long Termer

SUZUKI

LONG TERMER

PART THREE

V-STROM 650XT

We needed an event that would prove the worth of the Suzuiki

V-Strom 650XT. We found it in the Kielder 500. In all some 1100

miles in four days on road and track in rain and shine. Easy….

Words: JB Images: JB & Adventure Spec

Time is the enemy these days. It runs by

way too fast; we have too much to do

in too little time. And so it unravels our

best laid plans. So it is with the Suzuki

V-Strom 650XT long termer. Plan was

for it to ride the adventure class at the Rallye du

Maroc, but then the class got cancelled, and with it

being the end of the 2018 season there was precious

little else to point it at before the year rounded out.

Fortunately Suzuki hasn’t pressed for its return. So

as the new year thawed, or nearly thawed, we at last

found a challenge worthy of its capabilities.

The Kielder 500, at the end of March, was the

first of a trio of competitions that come under the

banner of The Adventure Spec Challenge as run

by Rally Moto UK. The 2019 series brings three

weekends of rally road book competition to the

UK adventure bike fraternity. No light enduro

bikes are allowed, this is about true adventure

bikes riding for two days in the wilder parts of the

UK. Kielder was the first, up there on the Scottish

borders, next comes the Wales 500 and the IoM w

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500 on the majestic Mona’s Isle is the

finale, in September. The 500 bit refers

to the approximate distance of each

event, being about 500km. These are

no speed events; the competition is

measured on accuracy of navigation

(each competitor is GPS tracked), while

the terrain is not extreme either, being

designed to be ridden by adventure

bikes on road tyres (predominantly

being gravel tracks).

You can see the V-Strom XT is a

perfect fit. And so the RUST entry went

in for the first round, the Kielder 500,

pretty sharpish (or pretty late if you’re

Robert Hughes the organiser, but early

by our standards…). The fact was it

wouldn’t just be a 500 for the V-Strom,

as with riding up to the venue and back

the total distance wouldn’t be 500km,

instead 1100 miles (nearly 1800km).

GETTING THERE

This being an adventure event we

took an adventure strategy. No van,

no trailer, no hotels – just bike, rider

and some canvas. The Suzuki was as

good as ready to go. The modifications

I’d made in 2018, using parts from SW

Motech and R&G, together with a set

of Metzeler Karoo Streets, meant all I

needed was to load it up with my Giant

Loop Coyote Roll Top Saddlebags, a

Touratech camera/tank bag, and my

latest addition, a Cool Covers seat

cover to help with the long hours in

the saddle. Long time RUST buddy July

Behl came along too, for laughs and

company, resting up his BMW RnineT

Scrambler in favour of his KTM 1190

Adventure R.

The 400 miles trip from Kent to

Northumberland was despatched

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in stages. 4:30am start from our

respective residences to a 5:30

rendezvous and coffee at the Thurrock

services on the M25. Then a motor

on up north to Peterborough for an

8:00am breakfast at an American diner.

Then more highway/motorway work

up to Harrogate, and a spur off into the

Yorkshire Dales for a seriously scenic

back roads final leg up to Kielder.

The Suzuki didn’t even blink. July

likes a brisk pace on his KTM, so the

V-Strom was set at 85mph all the

way up to Harrogate. Despite being

a mere 650 this was no bother to

the V-Strom, although it dented the

fuel consumption figures a fair bit,

showing about 57mpg for the journey.

The engine on the V-Strom is sublime

in being so smooth; it hoovers up

highways as easily as any 1200, doesn’t

feel at all breathless, and leaves the

rider fairly relaxed. Got to say the Cool

Cover helped here too, and I didn’t

register any butt ache.

In the Yorkshire Dales, sometimes

working along on single-car width

roads, again the V-Strom was just

fine. There’s a fair deal of torque as

well as rev to this motor and it can

deal with anything the road throws

at it and there’s just the minimum of

gearbox stirring. The handling on the

Karoo Streets was of course just fine,

as good as any road tyre, given the

modest block height. As a platform for

sightseeing it was as good as riding an

automatic.

RIDING THE KIELDER

Day One didn’t go quite to plan.

Starting way into the second half of the

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entry and stopping for photos, as ever,

pushed us to the tail end of the pack.

Meanwhile some earlier rain had left

those tracks that were running over

clay, soil or grass a little tricky for the

low-profile Karoo Streets. It didn’t pay

to push my luck and I rode at a near

crawl through these sections. Finding

a guy with a horizontal Triumph Tiger

1200 (also on road tyres) suggested

this was a prudent MO. There were

also steep off-cambers on many of the

trails, falling away into deep ditches,

so pushing your luck could lead to

serious consequences, so again riding

tricky sections trials-style made good

sense.

When rain came in the afternoon

we hit calamity as my iPhone (which

I was using as an ICO – distance

reading device) isn’t waterproof and

one clumsy attempt to slide it into the

protection of my tankbag wiped out

the distance reading. Turned out my

riding companions, July and Andy

Slater (nicknamed Harry as he rode

an Royal Enfield Himalayan), weren’t

navigating for themselves. July had no

clue as to where we were, while Harry

could only offer a compass he wore

on his sleeve for assistance. Well, we at

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least knew which way north was.

Of course there’s an easy answer to

such situations – follow the tracks left

by the pack. This mostly works but gets

tricky when too many people have

taken the wrong turn at ambiguous

intersections. Here you have to

become a modern day Indian scout,

looking for the most used option and

checking for evidence of U-turns. The

rain eventually stopped and we found a

distinct enough crossroads to reset the

ICO-iPhone.

Only then we ran into a fresh crash

scene where an enterprising Alex

Golden had not only launched his 1200

GS into a bog but as good as sliced his

nose off in the process. While two men

of stern constitution literally taped

his nose back into place the rest of us

played He-Man in trying to push-pullheave

his GS back up onto the track.

So, very typical it seems of JB & July

adventures, we ran low on time and

were diverted off the final section and

told to short cut it back to the finish.

Day Two ran better. July and Harry

decided on a day of eating and mild

sightseeing over one of competition.

So the Suzuki and I were able to roll free

and fast. In drier conditions the Karoo

Streets were getting good bite and when

Dutchman Michel Langmuur flew by

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on his KTM 990 Adventure, with buddy

Paul van de Pol in hasty pursuit on his

Yamaha Ténéré 660, there was nothing

for it but to go with them. On the

gravel the V-Strom on its Karoo Streets

felt secure and there was no issue in

matching the KTM for speed. Only in

the technical sections, especially where

deep holes challenged the Suzuki’s soft

suspension, was it difficult/impossible

to keep up. But any time lost in the

slow stuff was made up on the gravel,

the Suzuki can really fly on this stuff.

Hats off to Michel, though, he was

combining speed and navigation to am

expert level.

Now if there was one standout

challenge to the event it was easily

the camping. Overnight temperatures

dropped to -2ºC (28ºF) and with

my sleeping bag rated to only 0ºC

(optimistically I’d say) I was laying my

Giant Loop bags and Scott Dualraid suit

over the sleeping bag to try and retain

some warmth. The upside was the

camaraderie that went with this as each

morning, together with Michel and

Paul (the flying Dutchmen), Scottish

Steve, Harry Enfield, Mark A-C and even

Jordan Gibbons from MCN, we would

be stamping our feet, sharing coffee

and counting the minutes until the

kitchen opened for breakfast.

AND BACK AGAIN

The return trip was almost brutal.

The 400 miles nearly all on highway/

motorway with conducted with just

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coffee/piss/fuel stops to break it up.

Again, the Suzuki soaked it up, no issues.

And that kind of sums up what

adventures bikes are about. No vans

needed. Big distances made in comfort

and then a chance to ride in the

wilderness with a minimum of fuss

maximum of fun. And if the going gets

tricky, just slow down. For sure an enduro

bike would whip around such terrain

stood on one wheel at ten times the

speed, but adventure – and events like

the Adventure Spec Challenge – are not

about racing. This is seeing the world,

along the track less travelled. And in this

environment I have to say the Suzuki

V-Strom 650XT shone.

JB’S TOP FIVE OBSERVATIONS

V-STROMMING HACKS

1 I gotta say the Barkbuster hand guards

are just the business. At the Kielder 500

it seemed every second bike wore them.

There’s a reason: the fit and finish is top

class, these are quality items. The Suzuki’s

have never come loose, and you can tell

they’re super-strong. I’ve not crash tested

ours, but they’re equally useful at keeping

the rain and cold at bay! We got ours at

www.rg-gracing.com

2 The Cool Covers seat cover proved

excellent. The fit is impressive, the quality

equally so. And judging by the noticeably

cool waft of air under the JB butt on the

chilly mornings there’s definitely the

benefit of air circulation as well as improved

comfort with this product. For £75 (in the

UK) it’s a budget route to obtaining luxury

comfort. Check them out at

www.coolcovers.co.uk

3 The combination of a tall seat option

from Suzuki and SW Motech Evo footrests

(set in their lowest position) has really

opened out the V-Strom’s cockpit making it

super comfortable for a six-footer without

needing to add handlebar risers. The lower

footrests also allow, I think, a better feel for

what the tyres are doing (as they can do in

trials). Go to www.motohaus.com to find a

UK stockist.

4 Riders get hung up on fitting the gnarliest

adventure tyres. But, except in the wettest

of conditions, mid-knob sized tyres like

Metzeler Karoo Streets and Pirelli Scorpion

Rally STRs can work just as well while

giving better grip and longer life on road.

They can also be less noisy on tarmac too.

A great compromise tyre where you need

your bike for day-to-day road riding as well

as for weekend adventures. Find out more

at www.metzeler.com

5 I miss a centrestand. The V-Strom XT

doesn’t come with one as standard, and

while I know you can fashion a prop stand

that will work with a sidestand for chain

lubing etc, for me, especially when it comes

to loading luggage, nothing beats the

security of the centrestand. Weight penalty

or no, for adventure bikes it’s a damn useful

thing to have.

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ADVENTURE

ADVENTURE SPEC’D

THE KIELDER 500

The Kielder 500 was a triumph. It allowed 150 riders – about 90% of

them for the first time – to ride their adventure bikes in a true adventure

environment. On gravel across the wild open tracts, on single track through

forest, the Kielder 500 combined adventure bike friendly off-roading with

a road book navigational skills test – a concept that created maximum fun

and satisfaction. And along the way everyone found new friends and new

inspiration. This is, after all, what adventure bikes are for… w

Images: JB & Martin Lynn/Adventure Spec

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ADVENTURE

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MY KIELDER 500

July Behl (rider 150, RUST contributor)

Rock on Kielder 500! Let’s call a

spade a spade; I’m no GS Trophy

wannabe, I’m a traveller on a

motorbike who loves to venture

off the beaten path, however difficult

it may be. Soak in the experience. Stop

for photographs. Have a wee chat.

Fairly laidback. After riding the length

of the Americas (PanAmScram), I now

want to explore more of our beautiful

country, ride the TET, go off grid, and

whilst Kielder Forest is not necessarily

off grid, it is off-bounds to motorcyclists

except for events like the Kielder 500,

and that is what attracted it to me in

the first place. JB’s covered the details

of the event etc in the rest of the article,

so I’ll just share a few of my personal

highlights with you.

1. BEFORE THE EVENT – I hadn’t ridden my

KTM 1190 Adventure R in ages and so

it was a pleasure making sure the bike

was prepped for the event. Half the fun

is the prep, the build up, the chats with

mates on the phone, route planning,

pit stops, keeping an eye out on social

media for the latest gossip and updates

on the event etc… It was just brill.

2. THE 4:00AM START FROM LONDON TO

KIELDER – not so much!

3. ON THE WAY TO THE EVENT – No matter

how big or small a ride is, let’s admit

it’s great fun riding with mates and it

was great fun sharing the road with

JB again. We took the longer route

to Kielder via the National Parks

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THE KIELDER 500

and stopped for rather indulgent

meals along the way. I think we had

the equivalent of three full English

breakfasts on the ride up. A bit of

photography, hanging out with the

locals oop North – all of it was just

grand.

4. THE EVENT – Congrats to Burt, Dave

Lomax (of Adventure Spec) and the

team – what a cracking event! The

camaraderie and banter between

strangers was extraordinary. The

buzzing atmosphere at the start of

the event and the stunning route,

with everything from fire roads, to

overgrown grassy bits, ruts, a wee water

crossing, loose gravel, hard packed

gravel, switchbacks – all of this through

the beautiful Kielder forest – what’s not

to like?! The atmosphere at basecamp

was buzzing with energy throughout

the event and there were tired bodies

but happy souls all around. And we

were fed like Vikings – portions the size

of Jersey were on the go. So good food,

cracking company, stunning routes,

beautiful forest, new mates would sum

up Kielder 500 for most participants, if

not all.

5. AFTER – What goes up must come

down? No nob chat here but the

dwindling levels of excitement after

the event. Riding in pissing rain on the

motorway back from Kielder to London,

could’ve been more fun had we not

decided to stick to the motorway due to

time constraints. Nevertheless, I’d rather

be out on my bike with mates than sat

in front of the computer screen.

All in all it was grand and I can’t

wait for the next event at the IoM in

September. There’s one happening in

Wales, but I can’t attend, as that’s been

pre booked as family time.

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ADVENTURE

MY KIELDER 500

Robert Hughes (organizer)

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The Kielder 500 came about

because we love this kind of

riding, we love big bikes and

because it’s so difficult to find

places to ride them, especially on

something like a 240km course.

Kielder Forest is a fantastic venue

because of the terrain and the tracks,

which are mostly hard pack. It’s not so

suitable for small bikes – enduros – it

would be too fast. We want to keep the

speeds down; it’s about the experience,

the environment and the long distance.

We’ve worked hard on safety. Every

rider gets a tracker so we can see them

on our main organizational screen back

here at the base. That means we have

full visibility of the event. You imagine

setting 150 bikes and riders out into

the wilderness and you don’t know

where they might end up. So we can

track all the bikes on the screen and

just as importantly we have our medics

and mobile marshals on screen. So if

anything goes wrong for a rider we can

talk the medic and marshals through,

we have all their coordinates, so we

have a fast response and in all this is a

much safer way of doing things.

As well the trackers mean we can

measure the navigation exercise, we

can track how far the riders have gone,

can see how fast they’re going – which

meant a few words of caution to a few

who were going too fast – and we

can see when the riders are going off

course. One rider got lost, we could see

he was going round in circles in the

middle of the forest, so we got a marshal

to him and guided him out.

I’m delighted with the event. This is

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THE KIELDER 500

what we wanted, we wanted big bikes,

everyone in one place making it very

social, we wanted food in the evenings

–everyone having a good fun time.

We’ve built a lot of road book holders

for these events, so everyone can have

a go – you don’t to go out and buy

the equipment. For so many of the

riders, maybe 95%, this was the first

time they’ve done anything like this,

it’s been the first opportunity to ride

their adventure bikes off-road, and

between the riding and the navigation

they’ve loved it. And with our dedicated

Facebook group for the series it’s been

great to read the feedback and the sheer

enthusiasm the events are generating.

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ADVENTURE

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MY KIELDER 500

Jeremy Morse (rider 77)

This was all new territory for me,

I’ve done the smallest amount

of green lane riding, but that

was years ago, nothing since. So

I turned up literally with a brand new

BMW R1250 GS (JB – yep, it raised a few

eyebrows!) and it was one steep learning

curve, especially at the beginning. But

I loved every minute of it, you can feel

yourself learning the new skills, it’s been

absolutely fabulous, so I’ve signed up

already for the Wales 500!

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THE KIELDER 500

MY KIELDER 500

Paul van de Pol (Netherlands, rider 115)

I

came here with my good friend

Michel (Langmuur) as actually it’s

not that far for us – a short ride to

the ferry, the ferry across the North

Sea, then a short ride this side, too. We

can’t access riding like this anywhere

near us, the next best possibility is Spain.

And it’s been awesome riding: tough,

challenging, but it’s not a race – and

there’s the roadbook to master – so it’s all

fun. There has been just endless off-road

sections, so it’s been brilliant. We’ll come

back next year for the Wales 500.

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ADVENTURE

THE ADVENTURE

SPEC CHALLENGE

The Facts

It’s a three-round series: Kielder 500,

Wales 500, IoM 500.

Each event is a weekend (two

days), with a total course distance

of around 500km, predominantly offroad

(mostly gravel tracks) but with road

linking sections.

It is a navigational competition. Riders

follow a paper road book and through

an electronic tracker they are marked

on the accuracy with which they follow

the road book. It is not against the clock

and riders are encouraged to ride at

sensible speeds given most of the tracks

are open to the public – excess speed is

recorded and attracts penalty points.

The series is for adventure bikes

(‘road legal bikes’) with a minimum

weight of 140kg. Common sense tells

you that a CRF250L is eligible, being

at the lower end of what an adventure

bike can be, but say a KTM 500EXC is

not – that’s a competition bike (and

yes, Adam Reiman and his Motology

mates might hack around the world at

great speed on their 500EXCs, but that’s

la-la film-making for you, who really

wants to go RTW with oil changes every

15 hours?). Otherwise anything goes,

including modern street scramblers and

supermotos, pretty sure there was an

NC750 somewhere in the mix too.

The trails can be ridden on road tyres

(and many do), but if wet some caution

is required. Proper 50/50 adventure

tyres are probably the call, for a more

carefree ride!

The events are very social with onsite

camping, meals and bar. Here at RUST

we’d like to encourage riders to ride – as

against van/trailer – their bikes to the

event. The trails are not there to destroy

you, there’s no race and, heck, aren’t

adventure bikes specifically designed

for this kind of thing: highway and

byway…

Want to know more?

Go to www.rallymoto.co.uk

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LONG TERMER

Ahh, another long termer! New to the RUST garage is this KTM 1290

Super Adventure R. Pumped to the max, it’s kind of the last word in

super adventuring. It’s so much bike it’s left JB a little bewildered.

MAXED OUT

Words & Images: JB

I

honestly don’t know what to say. Or where to start. This

KTM confounds me in every dimension. There’s so much to

it. For a start: 160hp. I never had a road racer that powerful.

Am I ready for this much in a tourer come dirt bike? Not

sure. It’s got electronic aids coming out of its ass, so many I

haven’t even begun to comprehend what they’re all doing. And

boy is it tall? 890mm – seems more, I’m on tiptoes everywhere,

and for the first time I’m understanding how shorter people feel,

and think – yeah, you have to judge cambers and make sure the

foot going down is on the upside, eh?

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LONG TERMER

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I’m way too simple, binary, for

this, so I’ve elected to stop thinking

and just ride. In fact I’ve already put

over 1200 miles on it, chasing out to

Wales and back (twice), all on road.

It’s a consummate mile muncher,

or shrinker – you arrive everywhere

earlier than you anticipate. It’ll

cruise at any speed between zero

and a zillion and even in top gear

going say 90mph you crack that

throttle and it goes hyperspace. On

the road it doesn’t need gears, just

the one – sixth – is enough. And

despite making speedy transits it

seems to be quite frugal, the onboard

computer says it’s turning around

56mpg. Fuel range says 250 miles

after a fill up, but I’m stopping at

around the 200-mile mark mostly

and putting in around 17-18 litres

into that 23-litre tank, which is about

50mpg so the computer’s probably

about right on all counts.

Comfort is good. The footrests

initially feel high (especially after

the V-Strom XT with its lowered

pegs), but the riding position is long

distance comfortable. KTM suggest

the seat has 3D foam padding which

sounds pretty high-tech but I’ve

found I’ve increased the comfort

even more by throwing a dead sheep

over it (okay, just the skin). Vibrations

are minimal, and certainly don’t

interfere with comfort. Handling

is pretty damn good, too, and I’m

surprised just how much confidence

I’m finding in it despite its height

and the skinny 21”/18” wheel

combination, even on wet roads.

I’ve ridden a 1290 Super Adventure

R off-road before and been

impressed just how good and

manageable it is, those wheel sizes

help I’m sure, while the off-road

rider mode tames the 160 gee gees.

But we’ll be fitting at least some

50/50 adventure tyres, if not more

aggressive ones, before we take this

one off road.

But where we’ll take this bike, fettlewise,

I’m not sure. KTM help/don’t

help by having the most expansive

catalogue of aftermarket parts you

could wish for and we could go

anywhere between hard-core racer

and comfy two-up tourer with this

bike. For now, it’s just so immense

I’m still trying to get my head around

it all. An embarrassment of riches, no

question!

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Discover the world with

Bell's adventure helmets

A select range of Bell Helmets is now available through

RUST at www.bell-motorcycle-helmets.co.uk


*RUST subscribers get member discounts


adventure

WHAT COLOUR IS

THE EQUATOR?

July continues his southward journey across the Americas. His

odometer reads not in kilometres, nor miles, instead calories…

Words & Images: July Behl

PANAMSCRAM

THE STORY SO FAR

In 2017 July Behl (Dehli born, Derry

raised) realised a long-held dream, riding

the length of the Americas – Alaska to

Argentina. Although he had a KTM 1190

Adventure in the garage, for this trip he

chose a BMW RnineT Scrambler. With

five months to make the journey, July

was there for the good time; culinaryinquisitive,

socially engaged, this was

not a journey where you measured

miles – more the waistline (growing, not

shrinking). You can read up on his story

so far in RUST issues 27, 29, 35 and 41. We

join him here at the global midpoint that is

the Equator, riding with companion Aussie

Simon on his Triumph Tiger 800…

Who did we think we were?

Royalty? Celebrities? Rocking

up at a South American border

on a Sunday and that, too, at

lunchtime! This was cultural blasphemy at

its hilt. Border crossings are more of an art

than science – a bit like sex, I suppose – one

gets a tiny bit better and more confident after

each crossing or experience (my wife will

vehemently disagree with this statement, on

both counts). The takeaway here is, try and

avoid doing what I did, preferably have more

than ten words of Spanish in your language

ammo reserves, and most importantly no

(I mean know) the difference between two

similar sounding words, e.g. Caliente means

hot and also means… horny! Exactly! So, when

you’re engaging in polite conversation with

a female border official and want to express

‘How hot the day is?’ and instead end up

saying, ‘How horny the day is?’ depending

on your good looks and willingness, either

things will get exponentially expedited

or significantly stressful. Either way,

adventurous! I’ll write a dedicated article on

border crossings for those who want to go

into the intricacies of each one and spare the

rest of you beautiful readers who don’t. w

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ISIS CALLING…

It was about 3:30 pm by the time the

border formalities were complete at

Rumichaca – the Colombian/Ecuador

border – and there was no way we

were getting to Quito without riding

at night, which neither of us was a

fan of. Anyhow, close to sundown

we decided to ride to Lago San Pablo,

which seemed like a scenic place on the

map for a stopover. Just like everything

else on the PanAmScram, this decision

too was ‘on a wing and a prayer’ – if it

looked good on a map, it must be good.

Whilst I’d put together the whole trip

in less than a couple of weeks, it had

been in the pipeline for a decade and I

wanted to make each day count! So if

it meant riding a little longer or farther,

for a better view, a better meal, better

interaction with the locals etc I wanted

to do it, no matter how knackered I was,

and tired we were.

You see, Tom Tom doesn’t have maps

for Ecuador and we were relying on

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I WAS SPORTING A

JAMES HETFIELD/

METALLICA GOATEE,

WHICH IN HINDSIGHT

COULD HAVE BEEN –

GIVEN MY NATURAL

TAN – MISTAKEN FOR

AN ISIS GOATEE

Maps.me (free offline sat nav service

on your phone), which like every

other sat nav service is good but

not perfect. I know there are maps

and compasses, but we all have our

strengths and navigating isn’t one of

mine. Not only did we want to stay

at the scenic lake but also wanted to

find accommodation overlooking it,

which was a bit of a struggle as it was

off peak season and most of the hostels,

campsites and hotels were closed. Our

first attempt at my brilliant suggestion

of just heading towards the lake landed

us in somebody’s backyard. These

poor people were so confused and,

I gathered, a bit frightened that they

peered at us through their windows for

a minute before drawing the curtains

– and what sounded like bolting the

doors. Thinking about it, I was sporting

a James Hetfield/Metallica goatee,

which in hindsight could have been,

given my natural tan(!), mistaken for

an ISIS goatee – I bet the family were

burning up the rosaries that night.

Our second attempt at finding

accommodation took us up a steep

dirt track for miles before ending in a

dead end. The situation had gotten so

pathetic that it was hilarious and I had

tears streaming down my cheeks. A

180-degree turn on a fully loaded bike,

on a steep hill, in the dark, is not a lot

of a fun but hey ho, we were living the

dream. After a few more unsuccessful

rounds, we finally found a hotel but it

was way out of our budget – about $135

USD for two people including breakfast.

We bit the bullet and boy, was it grand

– no condom-infested toilet, cumstain

free linen, hot showers, twin beds,

restaurant and bar onsite. We shone like

new pennies. The next day at checkout

when I questioned the guards why it

was kept open in the off peak season

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despite no business, I was told a lot of

these properties were owned by high

ranking cartel members and it was

another way for them to park their cash

– you learn something new every day.

FINDING FREEDOM

On our way to Quito, we stopped off

at the Equator monument to take

the customary photographs and

soak in the fact that we’d now ridden

half the length of the world – a wee

achievement. In busy Quito, our

first stop was at Freedom Motorcycle

Rentals, a motorcycle rental and tours

company owned by Frenchman

Sylvan and American Court. Upon our

arrival, Sylvan shouted, “Welcome, help

yourselves to stickers, a T-shirt, cold

beers and stay with us!” We couldn’t

have asked for a warmer welcome.

There was also Salina, the Chief Security

Officer, who was a hot bitch. She had

quintessential Latin American looks,

beautiful brown skin, was in her prime

but took her own time warming to

us. After a while she took a shine to

Simon, and why not? He was single and

charming. What goes on tour, stays on

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tour and that’s all I’ll say. Good for you,

Simon.

We needed new tyres, Simon’s starter

motor was being troublesome and I

needed my suspension adjusted – “No

problem, you’re here now and we’ll fix

you and your bikes,” said Sylvan. We

didn’t know Sylvan and Court from

Adam, but in an instant they made us

feel at home. Their spirit of generosity

and hospitality makes one feel proud of

the global motorcycle community. We

didn’t accept their offer to host us, as

it just didn’t feel right, but we did take

them up on fixing the bikes and sorting

the tyres. A word of advice on tyres: buy

them in Colombia, even if you have to

carry them, as they’re way cheaper and

there’s more choice. I didn’t know at the

time but subsequently found out it and

now, having read this you won’t make

the same mistake.

Those of you with vivid imaginations

and envious of Simon and Salina’s

adventures, don’t be, as she was quite

literally a bitch. They just played

together, as you do with a pet. Anticlimax,

indeed! ‘Freedom’ do call her the

Chief Security Officer though.

Over the course of the next few days,

we went on a street food and drinking

spree. We were recharging ourselves for

the second half of the world. We hung

out at local market squares, parks, bars,

with street food vendors, the boys at

‘Freedom’, and it was just brill. Avoid the

restaurants at the main market square

and instead venture out to shacks and

small local restaurants as both the food

and vibe is way better. On the food

scene, one of the things I absolutely

loved and recommend was their giant

corn kernels and pork scratchings

salad/ trail mix/ appetiser – just like Fish

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& Chips, Lamb & Mint, Pie & Mash, July

& Fiona, JB & Wolfgang etc this was a

match made in heaven.

On the last day in Quito, there was a

delay in sorting the bikes out, as a result

we ended up staying at Freedom and

were treated to plenty of lager and ribs

by the boys. Thanks again to everyone

at Freedom for all their hospitality and

for fixing the bikes. You must drop in

say hello to them if in Ecuador and

more importantly, rent bikes from them

and go on their tours. From what I’ve

heard they’re fab.

VIA LA BALZA

The Freedom boys suggested a few

routes to Peru, and Sylvan said, “If you

want the easy/main route stay on the

national highways and you’ll arrive at

the big border. However if you want the

adventurous/more challenging route,

go to Vilacamamba via the back roads

and then through the Amazon to the

sleepy border town of La Balza.”

Of course, we chose the latter option

– and it was gold. It took us two days to

ride the 784km through the back roads

to Vilacamamba also known as the

‘Valley of Longevity’ due to the fact that

most people live well over a hundred

years in this village surrounded by the

Amazon mountains on one side and

the beach on the other. The reason

for the high number of centenarians

is credited to the rich biodiversity of

the valley and the fact that the fruits

and vegetables here contain the most

powerful anti-oxidants protection in

the world. Researchers and scientists

travel from far and wide to the valley to

unearth the secrets behind the lifestyle

of the locals. It also draws the eccentric

bohemian types who come to the valley

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to ‘find themselves’. The locals have a

motto of ‘living simply so that others

can simply live’ and this is evident in

the shops and spas in the valley selling

wellness products and services, mostly

to American tourists and expats who

were seen and heard everywhere.

And did Simon and I make the most

of our time in the Valley of Longevity?

Were we thriving? Did we feel like we

were going to live to be 100? Us in

harmony with our surroundings? No,

we were explorers, charting our own

paths. Ha! Despite all the antioxidants

and the rich biodiversity, we were laid

up. Arse water!! You read that right. It

was bad – the only thing charting its

own path was the trail of uncontrollable

faeces out of my bottom, and Simon too

was down with a bad case of man flu.

So, to explain: on the last riding

day to the valley we’d started without

breakfast to make up time. As we

were riding in such remote parts it

got to about noon without any food

or water, I was so hungry it felt like I

was digesting my intestines with each

passing mile. Finally we came across

a little settlement with what looked

like a restaurant. Too early for lunch.

They were all closed. Damn you South

American meal times. On the side of

the road, were about three wee BBQ

type shacks prepping to open – but not

open. With my best refugee on a BMW

look, I somehow convinced one owner

to serve and it worked. I think it was

more a case of a plonking ourselves

on her bench staring and salivating

looking at the food like two hungry

Labradors that did the trick. Ribs, beef

kebabs and pork chops were flowing,

but unfortunately she was handling raw

and cooked meat with the same tongs

and that’s what I suspect was the culprit.

The food was gorgeous and plentiful,

and the lady was kind and considerate,

just not clean. I spent the night curled

up in the foetal position, when I wasn’t

in the toilet – which to be fair was the

chunk of the night. I felt fragile, violated

and more like in the valley of death. To

be fair, in the five and a half months that

I spent in the Americas, this was the

only time I was ill, which isn’t bad at all.

Fortunately, in this instance we had

en-suite toilets in our rustic hostel. Just

like every other place, we’d arrived in

Vilacamamba without any bookings.

Sat on the square, just watching the

world go by, I noticed a bohemian bead

bracelet seller and ending up talking to

him and his mate (Emmanuel) about

their life, travels, the beads etc, and as

part of the conversation Emmanuel

said, “Come to the hostel I stay at.

Very nice. Parking for moto. Big party

tomorrow night. Good weed.” He had us

at parking for moto.

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Cannabis is another popular product

of Vilacamamba and all the locals

we met along the way to the valley

consistently said two things, “Beautiful

place. Good weed.” Anyhow, at the

hostel the evidence of the cannabis

being “very good” was crystal when

we met ‘Mental Mary’ – as the locals

liked to describe her. Mary was Dutch

by heritage and moved to the valley

about 20 years back to find herself. She

was lovely, rode a 125cc motorcycle,

clearly was not mental but high as a

blimmin’ kite. It was like Groundhog

Day – we had the same conversation

with her three times within an hour.

Short term memory loss was a bit of

theme at our hostel. It was like a ‘wake

and bake’ factory and the residents were

so ‘baked’ that despite being there for

weeks, didn’t remember each other’s

names and instead called them by the

country they originated from – easier to

remember. It was a bit like “Argentina,

come let’s go smoke some weed with

Colombia. Where’s Mexico today?

Britain is still shitting and Australia is

down with flu.”

We didn’t end up going to the big

party which was a restaurant opening

next to our hostel, however we did

manage to spend a few hours at a

local café listening to live instrumental

music with our new hostel friend

Dieter, a Chilean pilot and harmonica

enthusiast in his late 20s. Dieter too was

travelling the world in bite-sized chunks

attending and partaking in various

Blues festivals along the way. The café

was in an idyllic setting, a few miles

from our hostel, nestled between the

mountains, made of straw and mud and

had a wee stage with a fire in front of it.

It was an open mic night and hippies

from all over the world were taking

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turns singing their native music and playing

various instruments. I’ve been to a plethora of

concerts and music nights, but this by far was

the best – so pure.

TO THE BORDER

After two eventful days in Vilacamamba, we

bid farewell to our new friends and made our

way to the border via the Amazon. We took a

combination of the Route 682 and backroads

and rode at elevation of close to 3200 metres

in places. This ride had everything from

long stretches of dirt roads, water crossings,

jungles, broken tarmac, some good tarmac,

clay, mud, mountain passes, certainly was

one of the riding highlights in Ecuador,

and we would’ve missed all of this had the

Freedom boys not told us about it. One did

have to be careful on long stretches of the dirt

track, as a slight distraction or loss of control

of the bike would’ve ended up going down

the sheer drop that caressed the narrow dirt

track. It was remote and it was lush. Also,

except for one motorcycle, jeep and a minibus

we didn’t see anyone else the whole day. I

would go back in a heartbeat to ride this route.

We got to the La Balza border at about

4pm and unlike other borders on the

PanAmScram, this was a shack. When we

arrived the only border guard present was

sleeping and had to be woken up. You could

tell he wasn’t used to people turning up and

confessed that hardly anyone ever used this

border. As we were the only ones to deal with

we were done within half an hour and then

he unlocked and lifted the barrier to let us

through to a bridge/no man’s land between

Ecuador and Peru. This last day in Ecuador

was the prefect farewell to this amazing

country. Despite all the sickness and silliness,

the people and country looked after us very

well. More to be ridden in Ecuador in the near

future.

BOY WAS IT GRAND:

NO CONDOM-INFESTED

TOILET, STAIN-FREE

LINEN, HOT SHOWERS,

TWIN BEDS, RESTAURANT

AND BAR ONSITE

NEXT TIME

Peru. This is a story being told in real time. In

fact the story is taking longer than the journey

itself. July – will you put down those sticky ribs

and get on with it?!

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heritage

California

Words & Images: JB

cruisin’

RUST’s US trip wasn’t all off-road roosting. When we got to the West Coast we couldn’t help ourselves

but to indulge in a local passion – cruisin’. A trip from LA down to San Diego on Brit and American

iron proved a great interlude while the dirt gear got cleaned up at the Laundromat…

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2

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1. INDIAN LOVE AFFAIR

Warren took one look at the

Indian and claimed it. If he

was going to live a dream

of Cali’ cruisin’ it had to be

on American iron and he

just soaked in the style and

design cues of this new

classic. And of course he

took full advantage of relaxed

local laws (or was it absence

of cops?) to go, er, ‘native’.

2. ME TOO!

JB wasn’t impervious to

the attractions of a little

freeriding, either. There is

something magical about

riding with the wind in your

hair (while you’ve still got it).

The trick of course is to not

look like you’re enjoying it

too much…

3. SUNSET BOULEVARD

Actually this was Laguna

Beach, but when you see a

Cali sunset you stop quick

and take it all in – it really is

quite special. Of course you

have to shoot as well as look

– so JB got Warren to push

the Scout Bobber onto the

boardwalk.

3

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4. SUN SOAK

This shot is as it came out

of the camera, no fancy

Photoshop tricks. We had to

pinch ourselves, it was so

pitch perfect.

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5. STAR SPANGLED

It was just there, a windripped

red white and blue, we

couldn’t resist composing at

least one image like this…

6. BLACK LIGHT

The Indian looked incredible

in the light of dusk, just

amazing. If you’d just bought

the bike and parked it there

you’d be 100% convinced

you’d made the perfect

choice. Visually stunning

machine.

7. NIGHT LIFE

Warren was the cat that

got the cream (no birds

– married man and all). Forget

health and safety for just

ten minutes, in that climate,

that environment this was

motorcycle nirvana – even for

a confirmed dirtbike guy.

5

8. FORECOURT

The Speedmaster

arrived the next

morning, along with

wall-to-wall sunshine.

Such a different take on

cruising to the Scout

Bobber it took a while

to adjust our mindsets.

But very quickly we

started taking second

looks, started picking

up on the details – and

the sheer shine of the

Triumph.

6

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8

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9. PALM

Heading into downtown San Diego we

passed this beach. Too nice to just ride

past, so we stopped and hung around.

Then we actually managed to lose each

other when riding out – we still don’t know

how. But it didn’t matter, just another

excuse to ride up and down the strip…

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10. OLD TOWN

Old town San Diego is

enchanting. Low rise,

and these avenues of

weatherboard bungalows

with just walkways

between their front

gardens make for a special

atmosphere. And all just a

few paces from the beach.

And the culture was 100%

Bohemian, artsy, foodie –

kind of hipster in a sunkissed

beach-bum style.

Being utterly uncool Brit

and Saffie old boys we

can’t say we fitted right in,

but we certainly loved the

style and the fish tacos at

Single Fin just added to the

experience. Sublime.

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11

11. STREET SCENE

We could have walked the

neighbourhood, but riding it

was more fun – honestly what

is more fun than riding bikes,

any bikes? Warren’s been into

riding with rolled-up sleeves

ever since JB showed him

how French enduro aces

always ride like this, even

in the depths of winter. See,

even us old guys want to be

cool.

12

12. HIT THE BUTTON

Warren eventually

condescended to riding the

Triumph. He made a play

of finding the starter, the

controls and all, but after a

while – secretly – he kind

of liked, or at least respected

the Speedmaster. It’s just

something he won’t admit in

public.

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13

14

13. U-TURN

Using the pedestrian crossing as a

U-turn opportunity confused the

hell out of the locals – both in their

automobiles and on foot (in San Diego

they actually walk places, not just to

their cars) – but you tell us: did Warren

(a) turn on his Saffie charm or (b) just

ignore them?

14. BELL

The Bell Moto 3 is a sore subject in the

RUST office. This was JB’s pick for the

job, but when Warren fell out of love

with his original pick of helmet after

one day he collared JB’s pick instead. In

the off-road variant (check for the plain

colours and toweling – not leather –

lining) the Moto 3 is one lovely lid.

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15. PLUM

You can tell quality paintwork by the way it works

so completely in every different light. In the San

Diego twilight the Speedmaster’s red tank turned a

warm plum colour, while the chrome tank badge

and cap set off a contrasting deep reflective gleam.

Meanwhile the simplicity of the instruments and

comfortable sweep of the ‘beach bars’ (Triumph’s

name for the handlebars) just set the scene for a

comfortable evening cruise.

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INDIAN SCOUT BOBBER

This is a work of art. You

need time to take it all in,

then you need to ride it,

and then to look again.

You need to do both to

appreciate all the details

as the visual and the

kinetic interlink.

The motor – you can

see this visually too – is

very modern. It reminds

me of when Harley-

Davidson launched

their V-Rod. That was a

cruiser with what felt like

a superbike motor. The

Scout Bobber is a bit like

that, only not so muscular

(it doesn’t have the cubic

capacity) but certainly

it’s a modern engine and

100hp is actually pretty

fair for an 1100cc veetwin,

but expect linear

power and torque curves.

So you don’t ride it off

the bottom so much as

let it rip. It still makes a

deep basso rumble, but

with a higher pitch mixed

in. It is smooth, though,

and slick. The standard

pipes obviously answer

to the authorities – with

something less restrictive

it would be interesting to

see how it would perform

and sound.

Warren loved the Scout

Bobber and chose to ride

it over the Speedmaster.

That’s based on looks as

much as anything. The

Indian guys have put so

much effort into bringing

together a design that

works on a 360º basis;

everything links, every

part has interconnectivity

with the next, it is one

cohesive design. The

detailing is exquisite

for a mass production

machine.

The Scout Bobber

lives for an urban life.

It’s a bit of a pose, for

sure, but there’s enough

genuine design and

engineering to pull it off,

it’s not embarrassing and

the looks it attracts are

admiring and inquisitive.

And you need to keep

it in town, because for

real road trips that riding

position and that short

travel suspension make

for a compromised

ride. I wouldn’t call it

outright uncomfortable

but I certainly wouldn’t

consider it for touring.

Maybe for smaller, lighter

people it works better.

But in town it certainly

works, you sit relaxed

yet in command so you

can give it a quick spurt

to clear the traffic when

you need, or you can just

gently thrum along, and

it has a modern set of

controls and engine and

chassis responses to keep

you safe if others aren’t so

alert.

In downtown San Diego

it was fully within its

environment. It has that

same intoxicating mix of

modernity and historical

background. It has its

own identity for sure…

www.indianmotorcycle.com/en-us/scout-bobber/

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16. SUNSET 2

Another killer sunset, this time

we’ve set one of the beach

lifeguards’ lookout posts against

it. There’s something a bit

robotic in the design, don’t you

think – maybe George Lucas had

a hand in their design.

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TRIUMPH SPEEDMASTER

You expect the arrival of The Fonz

at any moment: heeeeyyy! The

Speedmaster is all Fifties Americana.

Okay, it’s British, but Fonzie rode a

Triumph too, after all Triumph were

Stateside and kings of the street

scene back in the Fifties (and even

had their moment in the AMA Flat

Track sun in the late Sixties).

Like the Indian guys, you get the

idea the design and engineering

team put a lot into their cruiser. The

Scout Bobber is thoroughly modern

take, but the Speedmaster is a proper

historical reenactment, only with

modern design and technology

mixed in. The 1200cc motor makes

only 76hp – down on the Scout

Bobber – but it punches so hard off

the bottom you’d never know it was

the less powerful. It really rocks this

power unit, it’s a joyful lusty beast

– that 270º crank angle helps – so

that you just can’t stop playing with

it, cracking that throttle repeatedly,

traffic light to traffic light is a threebraaap

(first-second-third) stanza.

The candy red tank is a keynote in

kitsch, yet this is a design that is so

faithful to its Fifties origins that to

call it a pastiche would be wrong, it’s

too well executed for that. While not

being an immediate European taste,

after you’ve ridden it for a while

– especially if that ride is a cruise

down to San Diego – then you start

understanding and liking its style.

And like the Scout Bobber, it rewards

you with every visual investigation.

It’s a superb design job.

It does then have the look, the

rumble and the presence. Leave

me with this bike for too long and

I swear I’ll be wearing turn-up

jeans, check shirt and unzipped

leather jacket before too long (and

of course the open-face helmet). I’m

Bonneville British all the way, but

given the right environment – west

coast US or south coast France

– I’d be giving the Speedmaster

serious consideration. Yes, this Brit

thoroughly exudes Cali laid back

cool.

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17. AND GOODNIGHT

We’ll choose this as the closing

shot of the San Diego cruise. At this

moment life was perfect. We’ll not

speak of the surprisingly cold, long

and borderline uncomfortable ride

back to Newport Beach, some of it

on a super-busy freeway. No, we’ll

not mention that nightmare, just

remember that dream day…

THANKS

To Tom Robinson, Phil Read Jnr and

Lance Jones at Triumph for sorting us

the Speedmaster. And to Luke Plummer,

Haley Holston and TJ Jackson at Indian

for sorting the Scout Bobber. To Bell

Helmets USA for the cool lids and to

Richa (Nevis Marketing in the UK) for the

gloves and jackets.

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C ntacts

RUST SPORTS LTD

www.rustsports.com

Warwick House

The Grange

St. Peter Port

Guernsey

GY1 2PY

Editor: Jonathan Bentman

editor@rustsports.com

Designer: Rich Page

Managing Director: Warren Malschinger

Contributors: Alan Stillwell (USA), Chris Evans (UK/FR),

Pedro Matos (PT), July Behl (UK), Craig Keyworth (UK)

Thanks to - Thanks to: (long-long list this issue) the

wonderful bods at KTM UK, Simon Roots and Sarah

Dryhurst (& Brad Woodroofe) for the 790 Adventure

R test ride, also to Moly, Pat and his crew for the

quality riding at Sweet Lamb, also thanks to Sarah

for the 1290 Super Adventure R and to Alan in the

workshop for turning around the 600 mile service in

double quick time; to Iain Baker at Honda UK for the

screaming wonder that is the Honda CRF250RX, to

Holeshot PR for speedily arranging Metzeler tyres

for it (no thanks to courier for the botched delivery…)

and to Wynn Connell at Acerbis UK for the plastics

kit; to Tom Robinson at Triumph and Dean Harfield

at Performance Communications for arranging and

delivering the fruity Triumph Scrambler 1200XE for

testing; to Serena Lillingston-Price at Yamaha UK and

Dylan Jones at Yamaha Off-Road Experience for the

smoothest WR450F test; to Dean Clements at Clements

Moto for the fantastic Fantic Caballero 500; To Dylan

Williams and his terrific team at the Dyfed Dirt Bike

Club; Robert Hughes and his team at Rally Moto UK

and to Dave Lomax and Greg Villalobos at Adventure

Spec for the Kielder 500 entry and support; to John and

Adam Mitchinson at Rally Raid Products for the BMW

G310 GS RRP test; to James Sharpe and Luke Plummer

at Motocom for the continued Suzuki V-Strom 650XT

presence. And to anyone left off, apologies, all help is

always gratefully received!

Copyright: RUST Sports Ltd. All rights reserved.

Reproduction of any part of RUST is prohibited without

the express permission of RUST Sports Ltd.


www.rustsports.com

@Rust_Sports

/RustSports

/rustsports

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